CDC allocates up to $6.5 million for vaccine PR

ATLANTA: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is increasing its promotion of the benefits of immunization via a trio of RFPs worth a collective $6.5 million targeting audiences ranging from preteens to medical providers.

ATLANTA: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is increasing its promotion of the benefits of immunization via a trio of RFPs worth a collective $6.5 million targeting audiences ranging from preteens to medical providers.

The federal health agency has become especially concerned about the bad reputation some vaccines have developed in the minds of consumers. More websites, blog posts and articles have emerged in recent years claiming vaccines cause everything from autism to diabetes to Gulf War Syndrome, the CDC said in one of the RFPs.

“It's easier for anyone to publish stories and information related to vaccines, creating a cacophony of voices on the topic, and making it more difficult than ever before to evaluate the merit of information and information sources,” the agency said.

The point of the RFPs is to “influence the conversation” so people are talking about the “good news” in messaging that resonates across different racial and ethnic groups. This is especially important, as data has revealed immunization disparities among certain groups.

“As recent whooping cough and measles outbreaks remind us, it's important to avoid and address complacency,” said Glen Nowak, senior adviser to the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, via email. “Immunization education and promotion efforts help achieve and maintain awareness of the important role vaccination plays in preventing and limiting the harm caused by vaccine preventable diseases.”

All three are new projects with no incumbents, Nowak said, adding that in the past firms including Porter Novelli and FHI 360 have done work related to immunization.

In one of the RFPs, responses to which are due by August 8 for a two-year contract valued at up to $1.5 million, the successful firm will promote human papillomavirus vaccine to parents of preteen boys and girls. The federal agency flagged this as a particular need because of stagnating rates of HPV vaccination, lack of state mandates, and high rates of infection for HPV.

The scope of this contract includes creating a comprehensive campaign plan, research to determine the best way to reach the targeted groups, and the creation of a motion comic book and mobile app. Other duties will include seeking viable partners and monitoring media coverage of the campaign that is ultimately launched. There are also some paid media elements to the contract.

The federal agency is already reviewing proposals for two other two-year contracts RFPs worth up to $2.5 million each, deadlines for which closed earlier this month and in June. One will target adults aged 40 and upwards who are recommended to receive vaccines due to medical conditions such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes that put them at high risk for complications from vaccine-preventable diseases.

The other contract targets parents of infants and children younger than two years old, and childcare and healthcare professionals that serve them.

The CDC has had a busy procurement summer thus far, already awarding multimillion dollar contracts to Ogilvy and FHI 360 on causes related to dating, domestic violence, and HIV/AIDS.

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