Maui News

DOH New Year’s vaccine video draws fire before it’s pulled

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Admitting it was not the state Department of Health’s “best work,” a spokesman today addressed a now-removed DOH promotional video that advocated vaccination over New Year’s resolutions such as eating healthy, exercising and saving money.

“As soon as I saw it this morning, I thought, ‘Hey guys, let’s pull this,’ ” Brooks Baehr, DOH spokesman, told Maui Now this afternoon.

“(The message) was coming at the expense of really important things, like exercise and a healthy diet,” he added. “The intentions were noble, but it was clearly not our best work.”

The video, which was posted New Year’s Day on DOH’s Instagram, said in the caption that the majority of people who set New Year resolutions are unsuccessful. Instead, it said to “set a goal that will not only improve your family’s health, but can also be accomplished easily and quickly: getting your keiki vaccinated against COVID-19,” according to the original post. 

An animation shows a woman contemplating thoughts of “eating healthier,” “exercise regularly” or “saving money” — with each one getting crossed out. The video ends with an image of a check mark over a Band-aid and text saying, “Get keiki vaccinated.”

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After many reposts and hundreds of comments questioning the messaging, state DOH pulled the video. However, social media users have since reposted recordings of the post.

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Baehr said the intent of the video was not to say that diet, exercise and budgeting are insignificant — especially since the department historically has worked to cultivate those things. 

“The department has been advocating healthy eating and exercise for decades, long before any of us have heard of COVID,” he said. “And I suspect and hope that we will be advocating healthy diets and exercise long after COVID is put in our rear-view mirror.”

Baehr added that the intent was to emphasize the word “easy.” 

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“They wanted to emphasize how really easy it is to get a vaccine for your kid,” he said. “It takes less than half hour. Right now, vaccines are so important, especially with the new numbers of COVID cases coming out and the majority of them are unvaccinated. Vaccines prove time and time again to protect against severe illness.”

Kehaulani Cerizo
Kehaulani Cerizo was born and raised on Maui and worked for nearly 15 years as a news reporter, copy editor and features editor at daily newspapers. She earned awards at The Maui News in Wailuku and at Today’s Local News in San Diego.
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