Pfizer plans DTC effort to pitch COVID-19 shot safety, joining a fall flurry of vaccine messaging

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(Sarah Stierch/CC BY 4.0) Vaccine and COVID-19 marketing messages fill airwaves and inboxes this fall with HHS, Pfizer, GSK, BIO and others planning campaigns. (Sarah Stierch)

Vaccine marketing messages are flooding media channels this fall. Pharma companies, industry groups and even the federal government are putting out information about vaccine availability and safety, and Pfizer is set to be the latest to join them.

The New York drugmaker this week told investors it plans to rollout a DTC vaccine campaign as part of its COVID-19 strategy. The company recognizes the importance of increasing public confidence in vaccines, biopharma head Angela Hwang said, and so it's planning an effort across “multiple channels, including DTC” to stress the importance of vaccinations and provide specific education on COVID-19 vaccine safety.

A Pfizer spokeswoman later said no details are available yet about the campaign or when it might begin.

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RELATED: New GSK campaign works to raise adult vaccine awareness—and counter COVID-19 slump

Pfizer will join GSK on the airwaves; the British company in August began a national awareness effort about the value of vaccines called, “Brought to You by Vaccines.” The campaign, set to run through mid-2021, stresses the importance of preventative health vaccines, which have dropped off during the pandemic. It includes TV, digital, social media and public relations.

Pfizer’s Hwang also said the pharma is backing the “Stronger” marketing campaign supported by the biotech industry's trade association, BIO. That national effort aims to stop the spread of misinformation around vaccines—and stop the war on truth and science.

The digital advocacy campaign is “the first vaccine advocacy campaign to focus on the root cause of vaccine hesitancy—misinformation.” Its run by non-profit Public Good Projects (PGP).

The “Stronger” website advocates taking actions such as blocking, banning, reporting and warning others about vaccine misinformation. It also encourages people to stand up for experts and specifically advises people to follow well-known public health voices such as former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and former FDA Acting Chief Scientist Luciana Borio.

RELATED: HHS hands D.C. consultants $250M to 'inspire hope' with pandemic campaign

Another campaign in the works from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic in general. The planned $250 million campaign looks to help the administration  “defeat despair, inspire hope and achieve national recovery,” according to the bid brief.

Fors Marsh Group was selected to handle the project and will enlist two large agency and media partners, VMLY&R and iHeartMedia, to aid with execution and media outreach. Neither HHS nor Fors Marsh responded to requests for more information from FiercePharma.

The HHS lead overseeing the campaign, Michael Caputo—the assistant secretary for public affairs and a former Trump campaign staffer—took a 60-day medical leave of absence this week days after he accused government scientists of “sedition” in a rant on Facebook Live.

Ryan Murphy takes over as acting assistant secretary; he previously worked as a communications director for the U.S. House of Representatives.

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