Skip your pants? Merck ramps up its 'Don't Skip' TV vaccination campaign with Wade and Union

While many people have been racing for their COVID vaccinations, uptake for the regular round of shots has been lagging.

Merck is now stepping in to help reduce this lag in older adults, building on its so-called "Don’t Skip" campaign that previously focused on kids. Joining Merck for the effort is celebrity couple Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union in a new push to get grown-ups back into their regular inoculation scheduling.

In the latest TV ad for the Big Pharma, Merck sees Union, a former actress married to ex-NBA player Wade, talking to her mother on a (socially distanced) web call from her laptop, saying “Mom, don’t skip your recommended vaccines.”

You can “skip the other stuff instead,” Union says.

Wade then comes into the shot wearing swimming trunks. You can “skip your pants,” he says.

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Merck makes and sells vaccines for 11 of the 17 diseases on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) recommended immunization schedules, including shots such as Pneumovax for pneumonia for older adults, and thus it has a big financial stake in ensuring these shots are going into arms.  

The pharma giant has been running the Don’t Skip campaign on TV since last year, focusing in on childhood immunization and shots for older kids, but with this latest ad is looking to ensure older adults are not falling behind as well.

The CDC has found that kids and teenagers have been lagging in uptake for their shots, notably in 2020 during lockdowns, but that this lag is also hitting older adults. For adults, recent data out from healthcare consulting firm Avalere Health found that around 89.4 million doses of recommended adult vaccines were given out in the U.S. in 2019 compared to just 72.2 million doses in 2020, a gap of 17.2 million potentially missed doses.

Merck is hoping the TV push will help push these rates back up this winter and into 2022.