Texas Medical Association airing pro-vaccine ads during political conventions

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new ad encouraging Texans to get vaccinated is airing during the two biggest nights of the political conventions.

The Texas Medical Association is behind it, and already ran the ad on MSNBC, CNN, and FOX News Channel during the Democratic National Convention last week.

The 30-second ad reminds people of the risk of infectious diseases and highlights the benefits of vaccines. It ends with the tagline, “vaccines defend what matters.”

KXAN’s Tom Miller talked with Texas Medical Association President Dr. Diana Fite about the ad.

Tom: How much of this campaign is aimed at getting kids vaccinated for the things we already have vaccines for, versus trying to skew public perception once a COVID vaccine comes out?

Dr. Fite: It’s mostly to get people up to date because they’ve gotten so far behind, the kids of course. Obviously, we do want people to feel comfortable when the vaccination is available for COVID, but our main focus of the campaign is that we see many children have gotten behind because of the pandemic.

Tom: The tag line is vaccines defend what matters. What does that mean?

Dr. Fite: We want to remind people that what matters is multiple things. Our health matters so much, having jobs matters, we’ve got to get everything back to normal as normal as we can be, and our families matter to us. We don’t want the kids bringing home illnesses.

Tom: A recent NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll found just 44 percent of American adults say they would take a COVID-19 vaccine when it comes out. How alarming is that?

Dr. Fite: I certainly understand why people have reluctance, however these are not going to be released without good reassurance that they’re going to work.

Tom: That same poll found a majority of Democrats said that they would take a COVID vaccine, while a majority of Republicans said they would not. Does that have anything to do with why you’re airing this ad during the two political conventions?

Dr. Fite: We hope this is not a political issue, we don’t want it to be Republican versus Democrat, we feel like it should be aired for both political parties. We don’t care what affiliation people have. People need to understand that vaccinations are very important to keep serious illness under control.

Tom: What are the potential risks associated with not enough people taking a COVID 19 vaccine once it exists?

Dr. Fite: We need to be sure that those who are the elderly, the chronic illnesses, people like that are going to be protected, because COVID obviously is so severe in that group of people. If we don’t get most everybody vaccinated, we won’t grow that herd immunity so to speak. We won’t be able to protect those people.

Tom: Is the point of it launching right now more to remind people, ‘okay now is the time to do it,’ versus trying to change opinions one way or the other?

Dr. Fite: It seems like we’ve got a couple of generations that have come up that are not familiar at all how dangerous these illnesses are without the vaccinations. So, anytime seems to be a good time now to get people aware of this. Then of course with the COVID vaccination coming up, whenever it does, that will be what finally gets us back to as normal as we can be. This seems like a good time with school starting to emphasize it.

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