August: National Immunization Awareness Month/Humans Are Sponges
Restart the immunization conversation among concerned, apathetic, and skeptical audiences. Educate them about the powerful life-saving benefits of preventative vaccines and inspire them to take the next step. This was part of The Bloc’s ongoing social platform #HealthAwareNext, which activates a year in disease awareness by tackling a different condition each month.
The threat of contagions and/or global pandemics is ever-present as illustrated by Ebola and now the Zika virus. But closer to home, vaccination rates for some diseases are not meeting national public health goals, with mumps, whooping cough, and measles on the rise among other preventable diseases that were once eradicated in the US. The anti-vax movement is influencing a new generation of Americans, increasing the risk for people of all ages, while a relaxed attitude or sheer lack of information about proper immunizations at all stages of life further contributes to new hospitalizations and deaths.
In this climate of disinformation, we needed a simple icon to telegraph the ease of infection and drum up the urgency to vaccinate against an array of illnesses. And we found it: human sponges. We produced 4 posters in English and Spanish with “sponge people” silhouetted in familiar close contact positions. Because sponges are dirty and can carry all sorts of pathogens, they are a fresh metaphor to drive the point for 3 key demographics: pregnant mothers and their unborn children, school-age children and teens, and adults. The call to action was direct: Don't be a sponge for infectious diseases. Vaccinate.
Our posters, coupled with the CDC’s #NIAM15 hashtag and materials, amplified the importance of immunizations, one of the top 10 public health accomplishments of the 21st century. During the back-to-school month of August, our robust engagement, essays, and hard data posts and videos from nonprofits, expert medical advocates, and regular people further galvanized believers with shares, retweets, and comments. Together we helped dispel myths around vaccines both in the US and the world.