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White House Welcomes Centene's COVID-19 Vaccine Campaign

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What You Need to Know

  • Centene is working with members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  • The message will be that getting vaccinated is a way for people to protect their loved ones.
  • A series of campaign public service announcements will air on TV networks as well as online.

Centene Corp. is helping the federal government promote COVID-19 vaccination efforts — as the unusually deadly, contagious COVID-19 Delta variant is causing a terrible new wave of cases in countries like India.

The United States now is averaging only about 1 million COVID-19 vaccination shots per day, down from more than 3 million per day in early April, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

White House officials are citing Centene’s strategy as an example of what health insurers are doing to protect Americans against the threat of the Delta variant and other dangerous new COVID-19 variants.

National Month of Action

The White House has responded by making June a National Month of Action. Awareness campaign organizers are mobilizing volunteers to knock on doors and help people get vaccinated.

The American Hospital Association has helped by setting up a program to send vaccination teams to the worksite.

Two large health insurer groups — the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans — have been mounting extensive COVID-19 vaccination support efforts since March.

AHIP has posted a long list of member companies’ vaccination support efforts on its website.

Centene’s Football Strategy

Centene is contributing now by starting a public service announcement campaign aimed at football fans.

Centene has enlisted several members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including Anthony Muños, Darrell Green, Aeneas Williams, Drew Pearson, Jerome Bettis, Derrick Brooks, Richard Dent, Ty Law and Emmitt Smith. The football players and other sports celebrities will talk about how getting vaccinated helps them protect their parents, grandparents and friends.

Centene is running the spots on its social media feeds, and about 160 TV stations have agreed to run the spots.

Phone Strategy

Centene also is planning to call any enrollee who is not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 and offer the enrollee a vaccination appointment. The insurer will provide a $5,000 cash equipment grant for the 100 network physicians with the highest increase in COVID-19 vaccination rates.

More on this topic

Andy Slavitt, the senior advisor in charge of efforts by the administration of President Joe Biden to fight the pandemic, talked about Centene’s vaccine telemarketing strategy Tuesday, at a White House press briefing.

He noted that another carrier, Kaiser Permanente, also will be contacting enrollees and helping the ones who are not yet vaccinated arrange vaccination appointments.

“We do hope other organizations, with broad reach directly into patient populations like this, follow their lead and contact people who are at-risk, because they don’t have a vaccination, and talk to them about the benefits of vaccination,” Slavitt said.

The Variants

The World Health Organization recently began using Greek letters, such as Alpha, Beta and Gamma, to refer to significant new COVID-19 variants, to get away from the practice of naming variants after cities or countries, or referring to variants by designations such as B.1.1.7.

U.S. officials are especially worried about the Delta variant.

That variant now accounts for just 6% of COVID-19 cases in the United States, but it has caused a surge in new cases in the England, and it is hitting English people ages 12 through 20 especially hard, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical advisor.

Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine can protect people against the Delta variant well, but a single dose provides only a low level of protection, Fauci said.

The United States cannot let the Delta variant take over in the United States, the way it did in England, Fauci said. He added that he likes the idea of people getting an extra dose of the original COVID-19 vaccine, rather than a booster designed to prevent the Delta variant.

“One thing that we’re noticing is that the higher your degree of immune response against the wild-type, the greater the secondary coverage you have against a wide array of variants,” he said.

The White House (Photo: Shutterstock)