Leading social media platforms unite to support COVID-19 vaccine drive

Leading social media platforms popular with young people including Snapchat, Reddit, TikTok, and YouTube, are supporting the vaccination programme by encouraging their users to get coronavirus (COVID-19) jabs.

The partnerships come as all adults aged 18 and over are invited to receive a vaccine in England as the vaccination programme continues at unprecedented pace and scale.

Snapchat users can use NHS stickers, a filter, and later this month, an augmented reality lens that all read: ‘I’ve had my vaccine’ for UK users to share on their accounts.

The platform is also hosting a series of question and answers with medical experts on the Prime Minister’s snapchat account. The most recent took place on Saturday 19 June with Dr Kiren Collison, the interim Deputy Medical Director for Primary Care for NHS England, who answered questions from the public about the vaccine.

Snapchat has also expanded its: ‘Here For You’ feature which provides in-app resources to people looking for more information around health, mental health and wellbeing. When someone searches for ‘COVID-19’, ‘vaccine’, ‘NHS’ and ‘vaccination’, they will have access to expert NHS resources on the vaccine to make sure they are well informed, build confidence and tackle misinformation.

The activity supports the NHS ‘every vaccination gives us hope’ campaign encouraging younger people to get their vaccine and join the millions of people who have already received their jabs.

The government met its target of offering a vaccine to the most vulnerable by 15 April and is on track to offer a first dose to all adults by 19 July, 2 weeks earlier than planned. NHS England has extended the offer of a vaccine to all adults.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “With the offer of the vaccine now extended to all adults in England, we are leaving no stone unturned to boost uptake and encourage everyone to get the jab when eligible.

“I am delighted that Snapchat, Reddit, TikTok and YouTube – some of the most influential social media platforms – are coming together to support the biggest and most successful vaccine effort in NHS history.

“We’re accelerating our vaccine programme on the road to recovery and I urge everyone to come forward for the offer, roll up their sleeves and join the millions that already have the fullest possible protection from two doses.”

The community network platform Reddit has hosted 2 live ‘ask me anything’ sessions on its coronavirus forum, featuring experts such as Dr Amalina Bakri answering questions from Downing Street. Reddit will continue to host question and answers over the coming weeks to help people access factual and reliable information from a range of experts.

TikTok’s support for the vaccine rollout includes adding the NHS ‘I’ve had my COVID vaccine’ stickers to its library for users to share, and working with Team Halo – a group of scientists using the platform to provide the latest information on vaccines with entertaining and shareable videos.

In collaboration with the NHS, YouTube has rolled out a video campaign with the tagline: ‘Let’s Not Go Back’ to remind its core 18 to 34-year-old audience of the importance of being vaccinated through messaging that speaks to their personal experiences from a year in lockdown.

The campaign is running on YouTube, and on national billboards and bus stop advertising, and on social media. Collectively, these information panels have served over 400 billion impressions worldwide.

Last year Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden and Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock agreed new measures with social media platforms to limit the spread of false vaccine information and help people find the information they need about any COVID-19 vaccine.

At a virtual roundtable, Facebook, Twitter and Google committed to the principle that no company should profit from or promote false information about COVID-19 vaccines, to respond to flagged content more swiftly, and to work with authorities to promote scientifically accurate messages.

The government has also developed a toolkit with content designed to be shared via WhatsApp and Facebook community groups, as well as Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, to tackle false information about the vaccine.

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