Government to launch $13 million booster ad campaign and school holiday vaccination blitz

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Media buyer Universal McCann signed a $12.3 million deal this month to secure television, radio, print, digital and outdoor advertising spots for the campaign, which the advertising agency is developing. BMF under a $1.1 million contract.

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The advert, which will air on free-to-air television from next week, will aim to convince Australians of the importance of getting a third shot to reduce the risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

“It’s a new, more motivational campaign that uses real people’s reflection on their experiences,” said a government source familiar with the process.

BMF is the same agency that created the federal government’s ‘First Things First’ campaign to encourage Australians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 launched in September and its previous ‘Arm Yourself’ campaign, which was widely criticized.

Health Minister Greg Hunt announced plans for a recall campaign in December, but so far only an animated video has been rolled out – partly because Australia’s Immunization Technical Advisory Group made several changes eligibility since then.

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Vaccine expert Professor Julie Leask, from the Sydney Institute for Infectious Diseases at the University of Sydney, said the rapidly evolving nature of the pandemic made it difficult to plan and roll out a media campaign.

“We are in a very dynamic risk environment, where the epidemiological context is constantly changing. The recommendations change and they are very fluid,” Prof Leask said.

“Once you’ve decided on your campaign, you get it approved with a cost and there there may be a new recommendation…People are more likely to act on a clear and consistent message.”

Dr Price said many people may not realize they can get a dose of the vaccine – including a booster – as soon as their period of isolation is over and your symptoms have stopped, while others believed natural immunity after COVID-19 infection was sufficient, despite a lack of clear evidence.

The RACGP is also calling on the federal government to fund after-hours GP vaccination clinics.

Mr Hunt said he wanted at least 76 per cent of eligible children to be vaccinated, after a recent survey showed a quarter of parents are hesitant or unwilling to have their children vaccinated.

Labour’s health spokesman Mark Butler said the Morrison government’s recall advertising campaign was “too little, too late”. [as] COVID-19 cases are increasing across the country.”

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