Here’s how Mesa County hopes to get more young adults vaccinated against COVID-19

Courtesy of Mesa County Public Health
Mesa County Public Health’s Stefany Busch participates in the agency’s “This is your sign” campaign, aimed at encouraging young

As Mesa County residents scroll through Instagram, local health officials hope to stop them in their tracks with colorful photos and four words: “This is your sign.”

That’s the name of a new interactive campaign by Mesa County Public Health aimed at encouraging young adults, ages 19 to 29, to get vaccinated against COVID-19. This age group is among Mesa County’s least-vaccinated, in an area that already has a lower vaccination rate than the state and country. Less than 40 percent have received at least one shot. At the same time, they make up a quarter of the county’s cases.

But people that age are not interested in “doomsday messaging,” said Allison Howe, a spokeswoman with Mesa County Public Health. “They’re interested in fun invitations to learn more for themselves.”

That’s where “This is your sign” comes in

The campaign features those words written on a seemingly random assortment of items — a cardboard sign, a gum wrapper, a pumpkin — often presented in a notable Mesa County location, including downtown and a desert landscape. Instead of laying down a barrage of statistics, Howe said the images are meant to pique curiosity. She wants to entice young people to find out more by clicking the provided link, helping them make informed decisions about vaccines.

Courtesy of Mesa County Public Health
Andy Gingerich, transit coordinator for Mesa County, participates in the local health department's Instagram campaign to encourage young adults to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines.

“I think it’s a different type of messaging than we’ve done here locally and definitely around the state, as well,” she said. “So, just hoping to make it a no-judgment zone.”

Howe wants to make this a conversation — an enjoyable one — that welcomes people to join in. The campaign prompts locals to write the tagline “This is your sign” on anything they want. The website encourages people to get creative, and take a picture and share it on social media. With enough of these images floating around, Howe hopes it will help move people “from apathy to action.”

Courtesy of Mesa County Public Health

Hospitals are near or at capacity consistently in Mesa County. Daily COVID-19 cases and deaths are some of the highest the county has seen since the start of the pandemic.

Still, Howe knows the threat of the virus may feel distant since most young people are likely to survive an infection. She sees “This is your sign” as a way to put vaccines front and center.

It’s not the only tactic Mesa Health is using with 20-year-olds

The agency is working on messaging to remind young people that even though they may fare pretty well with COVID-19, many older residents don’t have the same ability to fight through the virus, Howe explained. They could also spread the virus to someone more vulnerable to serious complications.

Yes, most young people will be “fine,” Howe said, “but someone you love might not.”