If you watch the evening news, as I do daily, you see that virtually all the commercials are aimed at medical problems of the elderly: psoriasis, metastatic cancer, arthritis, and so on. That alone tells you the demographic of people who watch the evening news (all the younger people get their news from Trevor Noah).
But the commercials I find most effective, although I don’t smoke, involve direct testimony from people who got cancer from smoking. They show people whose throats have been largely excised, who have to talk with a mechanical device, who are on permanent oxygen, who show their open-heart surgery scars, or who are on their deathbeds—all telling you that they wish they’d realized the consequences of their behavior. Actually seeing those consequences surely makes people think twice, and it’s for that reason that in some countries they put disgusting pictures of cancer-riddled lungs on the sides of cigarette packs. They wouldn’t have ads like that if they didn’t work.
And then, on the news reports themselves, you see people whose relatives or loved ones have died of COVID, or people who are recovering from a bad case of the virus; and these people often say, “I wish I’d gotten vaccinated.” Last night there was a segment on an unvaccinated woman who was pregnant. She had to be intubated, and while she was under the hospital delivered her 8-week-premature baby. Fortunately, both mom and baby are fine, but she added that she wouldn’t want anybody putting their children in danger like she did.
That inspired me. Why don’t the CDC or NIH turn those pronouncements into advertisements to get vaccinated? It can’t be hard to dig up people who got COVID and were sorry they didn’t get their jabs and who would also be willing to be on television. After all, I see them almost nightly. Or show a man in a hospital bed, recovering from a bad case of the virus, who tells the viewers not to let themselves be put in his position. Or show the relatives, friends, and loved ones of those who died, saying that they’d still have their people with them if they’d been vaccinated.
Surely those ads would inspire people to get vaccinated—at least inspire them more than hearing Anthony Fauci or Rochelle Walensky drone on about the delta variant—talking heads who also appear nightly, taking up far more time on the news. Of course we need to hear what they have to say, but they are not as much as a stimulus as hearing from the unvaccinated, those who got ill, on commercials aimed at the 100 million Americans who refuse to get their jabs.
And don’t tell me that the government doesn’t have the money to pay for such ads. For one thing, the television stations probably wouldn’t charge for them, as they are public-service ads. Second, the government is about to pay people $100 each to get vaccinated, so there’s spare dosh sitting around somewhere. Better invest that money in ads than in direct payments for those who get the needle.
I think this is a very good idea. Do you?
Or, if you have a better idea, or even a different approach, please put it in the comments.