Can art convince people to vaccinate against Covid? The answer from the U.S.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention has developed some resources to employ art as an aid to the vaccine campaign: so can art convince people to vaccinate? According to the CDC, yes, here's why.

Can art help the vaccine campaign? According to the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. federal public health agency, the answer is yes: thus, the CDC has posted on its website a page with guidance on how to employ art to spur people to vaccinate, aimed especially at health offices that wish to collaborate with artists for this purpose. Two tools are made available: a guide and a database of works and projects that, through an art-based approach, seeking to increase the thresholds of the vaccinated.

“Art and cultural engagement,” says the U.S. agency, “can generate community demand for COVID-19 vaccines by making vaccination an affordable and socially supported choice. Local artists can communicate vaccine information in a way that often makes it more understandable, easier to memorize, culturally relevant, and actionable.” What are the ways? Here’s what the CDCs say: “Understand the value and synergies of collaborating with local artists, cultural mediators, and arts and cultural organizations to promote healthy behaviors; Develop effective and lasting partnerships to promote trust in vaccines through a more engaging, tailored, culturally responsive, and sustainable approach; Stimulate more accessible, equitable, and responsive programs that reduce barriers to vaccine trust and uptake.” The guide developed by CDCs also aims to answer some practical questions, “How to find and engage artists, cultural brokers, and arts and cultural organizations? How to build equitable and lasting partnerships for the response to COVID-19 and vaccination more broadly? How to overcome common challenges and obstacles in cross-sectoral partnerships?”

Finally, as mentioned above, the page also includes a database of works and projects: developed by the Center for Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida(from whose site it can be reached): this resource takes the form of an open access collection of projects, organizations, and practitioners using arts- and culture-based approaches to promote trust and adoption of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Communities across America,” says Dr. Jill Sonke, director of the Center for Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida, “are rich in artistic and cultural assets that people turn to in both good and difficult times. Partnerships that utilize the knowledge and strengths of both the public health and arts and culture sectors can enhance and accelerate vaccine confidence and uptake.” The idea stems from the finding, also noted in relevant publications, that artists and cultural mediators are perceived as trusted communicators who can connect with people in ways that can penetrate more deeply than traditional public health communication. Sonke explains that because the arts are rooted in culture and place, they can modulate vaccine information by adapting it to specific populations and make it more personally and culturally relevant.

Among the organizations involved is, for example, the experimental art company DASH, known for its unconventional exhibitions. DASH will present, on August 18 in Atlanta, a large-scale public artwork entitled Back to NOW, a large, five-meter vaccination-themed projection by artist Nikita Gale. “This project is important to me because it literally hits close to home,” Gale said. “I have many family members and friends who live in Atlanta, and we know what the facts are: nearly 100 percent of COVID-related deaths that occur today occur among the unvaccinated.”

“In communities and across cultures, the arts are critical to how people communicate, make meaning and drive collective action and social change,” Sonke concludes. “Like public health professionals, similarly artists and cultural mediators work to create healthier and more equitable communities. To get us to the other side of this pandemic as soon as possible, the strength of their combined forces is needed more than ever.”

Three vaccine-themed artworks, Get Your Ticket Back Into the World’ by Fernanda Diaz Pizarro, Let’s Unite by Alexandria Hall, and Vaccines For All by Sarah Imran.

Can art convince people to vaccinate against Covid? The answer from the U.S.
Can art convince people to vaccinate against Covid? The answer from the U.S.