MDHHS post on COVID vaccine causes backlash

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 6:11 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A recent post from the Missouri Department of Health about the COVID vaccine sparked backlash on social media. The post racked up over 600,000 views and hundreds of comments on “X” formally known as Twitter.

Within 24 hours of DHHS posting these two short sentences “COVID vaccines will be available in Missouri soon, if you’re into that sort of thing. if not, just keep scrolling...” there was a firestorm of comments and shares on both X and Facebook.

Some users praised DHHS for its honest and laid-back approach, while others expressed their anger that the health department was treating the issue of COVID vaccines as a joke calling the tweet ‘passive-aggressive’ and ‘ridiculous’.

“We decided to take a little bit of a risk this time and talk in a way that wouldn’t say we’re requiring anyone to get vaccinated that wouldn’t be pushing people towards vaccination or the other way,” said Lisa Cox.

Lisa Cox is the Communications Director for DHHS, she said they have been talking to the public about the effectiveness and importance of vaccines for years now and said people are COVID fatigued, so they wanted to take a different approach.

“We took some time to think about how do we get people to listen, we know that not everyone is going to choose to get vaccinated and that’s okay because they have a choice,” said Cox. “But we wanted to ensure that people who are on the fence or people that want it know that it’s becoming available but also we want them to pay attention because there is so much noise out there right now.”

Cox said she knows there have been mixed feelings about the messaging– which was anticipated– and even received angry phone calls and threats.

“It was not intended in any way to be thoughtless. Like I said we do recommend the vaccine and we absolutely understand what this virus has done to everyone in the state,” said Cox. “But hey, we’re talking about the COVID vaccine right now because of it, it seems effective.

Mayor Quinton Lucas showed his support of the new tactic last week, tweeting “They’re trying their best ya’ll, in a difficult environment... and hopefully folks listen to the advice, if not, yes scroll on.”

Cox said despite the backlash from some communities, she believes their messaging was successful.

“Ultimately what we wanted to be able to do is get eyes on the news that this new vaccine was becoming available and I think we did that,” she said.