Louisiana Healthcare Connections, Pro Football Hall of Fame Launching COVID-19 Vaccination Awareness Effort

Louisiana Healthcare Connections, Centene Corporation, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame have launched a PSA campaign to educate people across the country about the safety and importance of the COVID-19 vaccine, with a particular focus on communities of color. Louisiana Healthcare Connections is engaging Louisiana residents to encourage them to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when available and help prevent the spread of the virus. The 30-second PSA features Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams, who is from New Orleans and was a star player at Southern University before playing for the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals in the NFL.

The 30-second PSA can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=jS6BYOh6i4A

To achieve “herd immunity,” roughly 80% of the U.S. population needs to be vaccinated, health officials have said. Multiple surveys have indicated high rates of “vaccine hesitancy” within the African American community and other communities of color, however, and that is likely impacting immunization rates, along with access issues. Recent data show Blacks make up only six percent of those who had been vaccinated despite constituting 13% of the population and accounting for 15% of all COVID-19 deaths.

In addition to the PSA, which will run on TV and digital platforms, Louisiana Health Care Connection’s Chief Medical Officer Stewart Gordon, MD, is speaking with communities across Louisiana to share general information about the vaccine, the phased approach to availability, its safety and efficacy, and other details.

“Uncertainty around the COVID-19 vaccine could lead some people to delay getting the shot, but getting vaccinated is the key to being able to return to many of the things we care about most, especially safely spending time with family and friends,” Gordon said. “Through this campaign, we want to empower people to actively contribute to their health and wellbeing by informing them about the benefits of the vaccine.”

The PSA campaign launched nationally with PSAs from Hall of Famers Anthony Muñoz (in both English and Spanish), Darrell Green and Aeneas Williams; Lisa Salters, a Hall of Fame Selector and TV broadcaster; Dawn Staley, a three-time Olympic gold medal winner and coach of the 2017 national champion University of South Carolina women’s basketball team; and Iman McFarland, chief operating officer for 21st Century Expo Group and an ambassador for the Hall’s and Centene’s joint “Strong Youth Strong Communities” programming. The PSAs are designed to build confidence around the vaccine and encourage people to get vaccinated. The messaging not only focuses on the vaccine as a means of protecting yourself, but also to stop the spread of the virus to family and friends. In the PSAs, the Hall of Famers talk about the people in their lives who are counting on them to get the vaccine to stay healthy. 

“As we’ve seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re a team and need to work together to stop the virus from spreading,” said David Baker, president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “We recognize there are a lot of questions out there about the vaccine, so we want to make sure we’re reaching as many people as possible. We thank Aeneas for encouraging everyone to get vaccinated for the sake of their loved ones.”

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is Centene’s Official Youth Wellness Partner. Through the “Strong Youth Strong Communities” program the last four years, Hall of Famers have discussed important issues with youth, including mental health, suicide, and bullying.  During the COVID pandemic, virtual Youth Summits have been held in a number of states on these topics.  For its work on these issues, the Hall of Fame was the recipient of the 2019 Booker T. Washington award from the National Minority Quality Forum for its commitment to advancing health equity.