Colorado pays 126 influencers to advocate for COVID vaccinations

In an effort to increase vaccination rates in Colorado, the state is paying social media influencers anywhere from $400 to $1,000 per month.

The 126 influencers, their pay dependent on their reach, include musicians, doctors, religious leaders, community members and caregivers who post on platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook. The details on the vaccine outreach strategy were first reported by Axios.

Of 4.9 million Coloradans eligible for the vaccines (12 and older), more than 1.3 million have not been vaccinated. About 62% of all eligible people in the state are fully vaccinated, and the state has a stockpile of more than 350,000 doses of the vaccine that are set to expire in two months.

Using influencers is part of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s “Power the Comeback” Campaign of TV ads, radio ads, mailers and online media on the COVID-19 vaccine. The state contracted with Idea Marketing beginning Feb. 9 through Sept. 30, to pay for ad costs, including influencer posts, production costs and agency fees, according to CDPHE. The state has agreed to pay a maximum of more than $16.4 million for the entire campaign, according to the contract, from a combination of state emergency reserve funding — which the state expects federal reimbursement for — and federal dollars from COVID funding sources.

“The only way we are going to end this emergency is through vaccinations,” CDPHE spokesperson Jessica Bralish said in an email. “Inoculation will allow us to achieve community immunity and return to the things we love. To get there, we need people to choose to get the vaccination. It’s why we are doing a robust information and outreach campaign.”

The influencers are required to write at least eight posts and post four video testimonials on their social feeds, according to the contract. Idea Marketing’s initial plan included ways to reach all Coloradans, with a focus those who are Black, Latino, Native American, Asian and Pacific Islander. The plan also included an emphasis for people who live in rural areas, have a disability, are essential workers, are part of faith communities and adults who are 65 and older.

Influencers have posted messages to their followers with the hashtags #DoingMyPartCO, #PowertheComeback, #CreaelFuturo, #VacunaCOVID19 and #COVIDVaccine. The messages and videos share scientific information about vaccines, how to get vaccines as well as share personal experiences.

In one Instagram post, influencer and mom Mal (hello_mallory) shared a photo of a baby shirt that said “worth every shot” and a sign that said “fully vaxxed” and “almost fully baked” with a photo of an ultrasound. The caption includes information about getting vaccinated while pregnant.

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