Seven months after the first COVID-19 vaccines received Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the City of St. Louis continues to see a hesitancy from some residents to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services data shows that as of June 24, 2021, 42.6% of city residents have begun the vaccination process, and 35.6% are fully vaccinated. To help the St. Louis community understand the importance and dispel misinformation of all vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine, the City of St. Louis Department of Health (DOH) and the Saint Louis Science Center have partnered to address vaccine hesitancy.
“The Science Center is an expert at engaging the public about science-related issues in a way that is effective, fun and informative,” says Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting director of health for the City of St. Louis. “The Science Center has a great history of providing accurate information to the general public, and through our partnership, the Department of Health looks to continue providing evidence-driven materials and data to our community.”
The collaboration began in late 2020, with teams from the DOH and the Science Center working together to curate and review content. Those conversations evolved into awareness education strategies to reach audiences seeking more information about the COVID-19 vaccines. Materials created include multilingual videos, online content for social media, email blasts and websites, and a new show from the Science Center’s Energy Stage team available via video online or in person at the Science Center.
“As a science-focused organization, we work to present the community with engaging information to ignite a passion for lifelong science and technology learning, as well as engage their natural curiosity about current topics,” says Andrea Durham, chief officer for science and education at the Science Center. “By partnering with the City of St. Louis Department of Health, our teams worked to determine how to best share information on vaccines in an accurate yet enjoyable way with a variety of audiences.”
The Science Center currently is showcasing two exhibits about the pandemic in the tunnel between the McDonnell Planetarium and the Oakland Building. Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World from the Smithsonian Institution explores the connections between human, animal and environmental health and shows how people around the world track down and respond to disease outbreaks. The NASA exhibit Mission: Control the Spread tells the story behind NASA innovations during the pandemic, what people can do to slow the spread of the coronavirus and what NASA does to keep astronauts safe. These exhibits will be available through the end of the year.
Content produced by the Science Center for the City of St. Louis Department of Health will be shared on social media through the Department of Health’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter channels, and through Nextdoor; as well as the Science Center’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. “We ask all St. Louis residents follow the Science Center and City of St. Louis Department of Health on social media to engage with the content and share the information with others,” says Dr. Echols.
The City of St. Louis Department of Health will have materials available on both its COVID-19 Vaccine website and its Vaccination Information website for the community to review and share with family and friends who may have questions or concerns about vaccines.
The DOH and the Science Center look forward to the debut of the new shared content and a continuing partnership as advocates for public health education in the St. Louis community.
Department of Health
Immunizations and Public Health