Delivering Clear, Accurate Information About the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout
Last week, the United States launched the largest and most ambitious vaccination effort in its history. The first doses of the FDA-authorized Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine began rolling out, less than a year after the disease was first recorded in the country.
This is welcome news after a year of unprecedented disruptions to our healthcare system, economy, and normal lives. Now, government leaders and public health officials are tasked with setting clear expectations about the vaccine, combating misinformation, and administering vaccinations quickly to save lives and reopen the country. To do this, they need fast, effective solutions to provide high-quality, accurate, and timely information to the public about the vaccination effort.
Since mid-March, U.S. Digital Response (USDR) has partnered with governments across the country to address the various public health challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by using a rapid response model to deliver fast support through scalable solutions.
Help Where It’s Needed Most
With the U.S. aiming to vaccinate 100 million people by February, now is the time for state and local health agencies to communicate effectively with the public to successfully navigate this large-scale effort. This is even more critical given the widespread confusion and misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines from unofficial outlets.
Given the fast-paced nature of this pandemic and limited resources that are already overwhelmed, it will be difficult for public health agencies across the country to stand-up and maintain vaccination websites and the technology behind them. Information needs to be timely, easy to understand and locate, and must meet key accessibility standards so everyone can use them.
To assist with this effort, USDR is creating a free, easy-to-deploy website template that enables public health agencies to stand up a vaccination communication platform in a matter of hours. This work is based on the widespread success of the local elections website template USDR built earlier this year in partnership with the Center for Tech and Civic Life, based on research from the Center for Civic Design. The template was created to provide election offices around the country a simple, modern tool to build or upgrade their local election website. It was ultimately used in 10 counties, making it easier for 2.6 million residents to find election and polling information online.
Simple Solutions for Complex Problems
“We launched our new website within a week, and USDR provided support each step of the way. I highly recommend them if you need to scale up any tech quickly.”
— Kammi Foote, County Clerk-Recorder & Registrar of Voters, Inyo County, CA
Public health websites are a critical resource for people to find much-needed information about the vaccine. Leveraging this website template not only saves state and local governments time, but it also helps to build public trust, improve the quality of communications, reduce call volume, and get more people vaccinated.
Our website is:
- Simple: Straightforward and easy for citizens to navigate, with modern web design and content written in plain language.
- Accessible: Designed to be easy to use on any device, including mobile and older devices, and meets AA accessibility standards.
- Easy to implement: Easy for website managers to set up, customize, and update content, leveraging the best-in-class WordPress platform.
- Free: Created by experienced, pro-bono technologists to deliver essential services and infrastructure that supports the needs of the public.
In just a few hours, public health agencies can set up a modern, user-friendly site that works on desktops and mobile phones. The website comes pre-built with a navigational homepage and customizable content, including pages to help people understand when they’ll be eligible for the vaccine, what current safety and efficacy data is available on the vaccines, where to find vaccines nearby, and a visualization of how many doses have already been administered by entering simple usage data.
USDR is available to partner with government teams to teach them how to use the website to ensure it’s easy to manage and maintain long-term. USDR supports government teams through a quick installation process that includes: 1) creating a domain name, 2) duplicating the template site, and 3) customizing content through the WordPress platform’s simple interface. After that, government teams will be fully equipped to update the website quickly and easily as new vaccine information becomes available.
Along with this website, USDR has developed a playbook that provides distilled learnings and tangible action steps to help governments distribute COVID-19 vaccines. USDR also interviewed 39 individuals from throughout the U.S. to explore how at-risk and vulnerable communities receive critical COVID-19 information. This research can help guide strategies to build trust in government-focused COVID communications and to make COVID information accessible to all.
How We Can Help You
USDR has directly supported many city, county, and state governments to meet the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis with fast and free support. Along with this free vaccination website template, USDR’s health program assists with COVID-19 testing, exposure notifications apps, public health communications strategies, vaccine distribution, and more.
To learn more about the solutions described here, or any other needs your office has, visit our website for a full menu of USDR’s health-focused offerings. If you are a government seeking assistance with COVID response efforts, connect with our team by filling out this brief intake form and we’ll get back to you within hours. We look forward to supporting you.