YouTube starts airing COVID-19 vaccine PSAs

The service has been taking down videos containing vaccine misinformation.


YouTube has created COVID-19 vaccine PSAs that it's running on its own service, TV, radio and as ads on other social media platforms through July. The "first chapter" in a series of PSAs is live today in the US. It will roll out to other regions in line with local vaccine availability.

"At YouTube, we are committed to making sure that people have access to reliable information about the vaccine, including how it was developed and tested, what they can expect when they get the vaccine, and how every person plays a part in the public’s health," Dr. Garth Graham, YouTube's director and global head of healthcare and public health partnerships, wrote in a blog post. "Hearing inaccurate information can breed doubt in someone’s mind and that’s why trusted scientific and medical organizations are partnering with YouTube to make sure credible information is reaching people in accessible and culturally relevant ways."

YouTube teamed up with the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine for the PSAs. They're trying to persuade people to get informed about the vaccine by reminding them of everything they have to look forward to when the pandemic is finally behind us. The initial goal is to reach Americans aged 18 to 34, now that everyone in the US aged 16 and older is eligible for the vaccine.

Some other tech giants are helping users to find and book vaccine appointments, such as Facebook and Amazon, while Google is helping people find out more information about vaccines from pharmacies using chatbots in Search and Maps. YouTube has an enormous reach, though, and the PSAs could prompt more people to get vaccinated sooner rather than later.

The PSAs come in the wake of an effort by YouTube to take down videos containing vaccine misinformation. Last month, the service said it had removed 30,000 such videos.