O.C. to hire public relations firm to reassure skeptical residents about safety of COVID-19 vaccine

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Erik Mara, a respiratory therapist at UCI Health, receives a Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 16 in Orange. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Erik Mara, a respiratory therapist at UCI Health, receives a Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 16 in Orange. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

As the number of COVID-19 infections continues to climb across Orange County — flooding hospitals and further straining the region’s healthcare system — county leaders Tuesday approved hiring a public relations firm to help reassure residents about the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines.

The county Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 1 — with Supervisor Don Wagner dissenting — to allow CEO Frank Kim to enter into a contract with Costa Mesa-based marketing consultant Idea Hall to develop a plan to reach out to communities who have expressed skepticism about getting the vaccine.

While county officials did not specify which communities they will be focusing on, a recent survey conducted by the Orange County Health Care Agency indicated that women, people ages 35 to 54, Latinos, Black people and residents of Anaheim, Costa Mesa and Santa Ana showed the lowest willingness to be vaccinated.

“Is there urgency to what we need to do? Yes, because unlike testing, this requires education. Education and awareness takes time,” said Board Chairman Andrew Do. “You are not going to win over people with one ad, one touch, one encounter. You need multiple touches from multiple sources that they believe in … to educate them of the process and then lower the resistance to vaccines.”

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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