New Hampshire has hit a vaccination plateau, with 54.3% of state residents receiving COVID-19 inoculation, a statistic from New Hampshire Health and Human Services that hasn’t changed much in recent months .
While the decision to vaccinate or not is often characterized in partisan political terms, there is a group of people who are reluctant to be vaccinated for reasons totally unrelated to politics.
It could be a lack of information, vague fears, or a widespread refusal to ask them to do something they’d rather not do.
These are the people that Grace Kindeke, project coordinator with the Manchester Community Action Coalition, is trying to reach with a positive art campaign.
She is leading an effort to ask artists to create graphics and short videos to be included in a digital community campaign and art exhibit aimed at tackling vaccine hesitancy. Artists whose works are selected will receive a stipend of $ 150.
“We are trying to encourage people to get vaccinated and to mitigate misinformation,” she said. “A lot of people, especially in the immigrant community, believe in all kinds of things, and a lot of the posts have been very negative, ‘If you don’t do this you will die or you are stupid.’
“We are working on bright and interesting constructed content, flyers, posters and graphics that can be shared on social media as well as items that can be held in your hand. We want to change the conversation and believe we can do it through art, construction and connection. “
Communities of color are among those targeted.
Posters have often been part of national crises, such as the Spanish flu of 1918 with the pro-face mask slogan, “Coughs and sneezes spread disease”, or the WWII one with the reminder against reckless words, “Cowardly, sink ships.”
Kindeke says the kind of brilliant and interesting artwork that can come in handy during the COVID-19 pandemic should provide honest, accurate information and be empowering.
This could, for example, emphasize empathy and a desire to ensure the safety and health of loved ones.
The website, amplifier.org, contains examples of free art intended to encourage people to get vaccinated. One piece shows a hitter with the plate pushing a baseball-sized virus out of the park.
“There are many organizations that promote graphics and art across the country and try to send a message of positivity and encouragement for people to make a self-reliant choice,” Kindeke said. “And I’ve had one-on-one conversations with people who said they weren’t sure if they got the shot and just wanted someone to hear them and not shame them.”
His campaign also involves personal outreach to immigrant-owned businesses, highly immigrant neighborhoods, and communities with people of color.
“There is a lot of mistrust and ignorance of the virus, the vaccine and some of these people do not have good relationships with health care providers or may have had bad experiences with health professionals,” said she declared. “People couldn’t feel confident.
“The arena of public discourse is loud and messy and often filled with a lot of disastrous news and negative messages. It makes a difference to see beautiful images with a positive message. As an African immigrant myself, I know that, especially in my community, hope and beauty are important values.
Amy Gothing, who works as a coordinator in a Manchester Coalition-run mentoring program, said she was hesitant to get the vaccine herself.
“It took me a while to come to this choice to get vaccinated,” she said. “For me, it has never been difficult: ‘No, I am not getting the vaccine.’
“I’m in my early thirties and was quite nervous about how this would affect fertility and my ability to have children.”
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the vaccine is safe and effective and there is no evidence that it causes fertility problems.
Gothing said she decided to go for the photo after her mind calmed down as she discussed the issue with people she trusted.
“They calmed my mind,” she said. “There isn’t much we can control. Which means, if I would have caught the virus, what it would have done to my health. “
This article is shared by The Granite State News Collaborative as part of our Race and Fairness Project. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org.