April 8, 2021
A recent survey of 808 college students, commissioned by BeatTheVirus and the Health Innovations Lab at New America and administered by the Generation Lab over the recent spring break period, found that while vaccine confidence was high among those surveyed, over half still planned to travel over spring break, against CDC recommendations. In terms of building trust, the survey found that personal doctors (69%) and public health officials (55%) are the most trusted voices that students are most likely to listen to when it comes to vaccine endorsements, and peer pressure is also having a positive effect on vaccine rates among young people. The survey also found that vaccine hesitancy rates mirror those in the adult population and follow political and demographic markers. The full survey data can be found at BeatTheVirus.org.
Today, as colleges and universities across the country work on plans to return to some form of in-person learning in the fall, New America's Health Innovation Lab and the MIT Center for Constructive Communication are launching BeatTheVirus.org. Building on the successful “#Beatthevirus” social media campaign, which had over 600 million impressions of specifically developed content to promote the latest scientific knowledge via celebrity and other social media profiles, this resource hub is a one-stop shop for verified and factual public health data and resources, ensuring that critical information about the current COVID environment is easily accessible, searchable, and shareable.
“Young people hold a key to achieving herd immunity in America to beat the virus, underscoring that educational initiatives must target their unique needs,” said Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal, MD, former US Assistant Surgeon General who serves as Public Health Director of Beat the Virus and the Health Innovations Lab at New America. "The pandemic is increasingly affecting young people who are experiencing a surge in new infections. While the survey reveals that the majority of students are willing to be vaccinated, there is hesitancy among specific groups that must be addressed.”
“We saw during the earliest days of the pandemic how important it was to deliver factual information in engaging ways to young audiences, which was a focus of #Beatthevirus,” said Deb Roy, Director of the MIT Center for Constructive Communication and Director of Technology Innovation for the BeatTheVirus initiative. “The survey shows that our work is not yet done, and that the need for a resource like BeatTheVirus.org is real.”
BeatTheVirus.org includes these key sections:
Facts and Stats: Up-to-date statistical information about COVID infections, deaths, the number of vaccines administered, predictive models, and policy actions. Includes an interactive graphic that, for the first time, allows users to examine COVID-19 infections and death rates looking at multiple demographic profiles at once, including age, race/ ethnicity, and sex.
Vaccine Info: Links to where users can get vaccinated in their communities as well as cutting edge information about various vaccines and their mechanisms of action
Take Action: Fourteen actions to protect your health and prevent further spread of the virus with guidance about why these steps are important to follow.
Toolkit: A collection of easily shareable social media graphics to encourage the sharing of trustworthy l information about COVID-19 and vaccines with friends, family, and colleagues.
Resources: A knowledge hub collecting verified and validated information about COVID-19.
Frequently Asked Questions: A compilation of frequently asked questions with answers including a special link to “ask a scientist” if users need more information.
Daily News Briefs: Links to breaking news stories about COVID-19 including New America’s daily report.
Support for the survey and BeatTheVirus.org website was provided in part by New America under a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The views expressed as part of this project do not necessarily reflect the views of RWJF or New America.
To contact Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal, MD, director of New America’s Health Innovations Lab, please email Emily Stark (firstname.lastname@example.org)