County to launch ‘very aggressive’ vaccination campaign

Commissioners will collaborate with Cape and Islands communities to promote vaccination efforts.

County commissioners hope to use iconic Island locations like the Flying Horses carousel to promote vaccinations. -Gabrielle Mannino

Dukes County is working in conjunction with Cape and Island government and health officials to launch a vaccination campaign that will target the hundreds of thousands of seasonal visitors soon to arrive in our resort communities.

At a Dukes County Commission meeting Wednesday, commission chair Christine Todd said the campaign — which will include broadcast advertisements, posters, outreach to local businesses, and various incentives for getting vaccinated — will focus largely on the 20- to 30-year-old age group that comprises the majority of the Island’s seasonal workforce (although the messaging will reach a broad swath of the seasonal population).

She said the messaging should look to reach across the entire Northeast corridor — from Washington, D.C., all the way to Boston. “Those are the people that are coming here. We want to use social media to project the messaging to lots of people from different areas who come here during the summer — it’s basically a very aggressive campaign to encourage people who come here to get vaccinated,” Todd said.

In order to relate more to the target audience, Todd suggested using local influencers to disseminate the messaging, and including local landmarks and iconic Island experiences in any media advertising.

“Taking iconic images that really bring people joy — experiences that people want to have here with other people, and the message ‘get vaccinated.’ The same thing applies to the Cape with their particular iconic experiences. You want to go to the fair again? Get vaccinated. You want to go to the Flying Horses, get vaccinated,” she said.

Various Island entities have already agreed to air advertisements promoting the vaccine, such as the Steamship Authority (SSA), Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, and Martha’s Vineyard Airport.

The SSA said they would play the commercial on their vessels as people are crossing to and from the Vineyard. Todd said airport officials agreed to play any promotional video the county comes up with in the terminal building, and potentially even on the planes during flights.

She also suggested reaching out to local businesses to encourage them to offer incentives for customers who are fully vaccinated, such as special dining or shopping experiences, or some kind of financial incentive. “Some restaurants have talked about setting up VIP sections where you can still get into the restaurants without proof of vaccination, but if you want to sit in this special area, show us your card,” Todd said.

According to Todd, the entire initiative hopes to loop in Barnstable County and other mainland areas, along with Nantucket County, to work collaboratively on messaging ideas. “We really want this to be a whole Cape and Islands effort,” Todd said.

Commissioner Peter Wharton wondered whether any outreach has been done to Island business owners who are going to be employing a large portion of the campaign’s target audience. “We should be encouraging businesses to get cohorts of their employees vaccinated — that’s a huge thing, to be able to say, ‘All our staff has been vaccinated,’” he said. 

Todd noted she has been in touch with Island trade and business associations, such as the Oak Bluffs Association, the Edgartown Board of Trade, and the Tisbury Business Association. All are “100 percent behind the idea,” she said.

“Their major concern is the employees of their towns. Having the short staff people have now, if their staff is not fully vaccinated, they risk their staff members not being able to come into work for seven days if they are exposed,” she said.

Commissioner Keith Chatinover said he has seen some incentive ideas from bars and restaurants to provide a free drink or free food to encourage people to get the vaccine. “It creates a community around doing something good, which I think is really important,” Chatinover said.

As the entire campaign is fleshed out more, Todd said, commissioners will work to come up with a budget that can be contributed to the overall effort, which Todd estimated would cost at least $100,000.

“These are professional advertising agencies, so it might be close to $200,000 in total. So how much are we going to chip in?” she wondered.

Commissioner Tristan Israel asked whether money from the M.V. License Plate auction could be used for this initiative, as it’s earmarked for economic development and tourism.

County manager Martina Thornton said there is about $80,000 in the fund, and the public messaging campaign would fall directly in line with that money’s intended purpose. Thornton said commissioners would have to move any funds they wish to spend out of the license plate fund and into the economic development line in the county budget.

Wharton warned commissioners of overinvesting in an overly broad marketing campaign, and stressed the importance of utilizing trusted messengers on-Island, such as doctors, business owners, and other local people to promote the vaccine. “This has to be from the grassroots. It has to come from trusted members of the community,” Wharton said.

Commissioner Don Leopold suggested looking at other examples of advertising campaigns, and potentially utilizing premade templates, so as to not “reinvent the wheel.” 

“To start from scratch with our own advertising campaign, even with $200,000 — I at least want to have a database of best practices,” he said.


  1. it would be easier to just set up a clinic at the terminal in woods hole, and say that it you aren’t vaccinated you can get a shot right here, right now, and get on the boat. If you don’t want to get a shot, and you have no good medical reason as to why , you can stay on the mainland.

  2. We’re already doing fantastic work at getting the word out about vaccinations considering that of the 3,006 counties in the United States, Dukes County ranks 5th for highest vaccination rate per capita (1+ dose). I do however understand the importance of getting our seasonal crowd protected. I wish the best for all involved in this campaign.

  3. Wow the county is just looking for ways to spend money on another government program sucking up taxpayer revenue for a feel good moment in their lives. The world, the country, the state, every night on national news we have enough education about being vaccinated we do not need to spend any more hard earned tax payer money on this idea. Certainly not $100-$200,000 worth. The people of this country know what they need to be doing. Please stop sitting in your taxpayer funded buildings, salaries, jobs and dreaming up ways to spend my money.

    • Especially not for an untested medical treatment that no one can legally force you to take and for which the purveyors carry no liability.

      Total waste of money. Those who have decided not to get the jabs presumably have good reasons, and the money will be wasted.

      • Most of people who have decided not to get jabbed are cognitively challenged, some education may change their minds.

        Do you think the Island would be better off if no one got jabbed?
        Has all this jabbing been a waste of money?

      • “Untested Medical Treatment” may not be an accurate statement. The Pfizer vaccine was tested on 44,000 individuals in a multi-phase trial.

    • Bob, if that’s the case, why are so many people refusing to get vaccinated?

      Have you gotten the shot(s)?

      • The vaccination “roll-out” has made a lot of people very nosy!
        Even though presumably these nosy jabbed ones are protected; that being the case, other people’s private healthcare decisions are, frankly, none of their business. OTOH, perhaps this growing nosiness wave means that soon we can start demanding to know of our friends, neighbors, and utter strangers what their preferred form of birth control is! At least that would be interesting . . . ((-:))

        • Nice logical fallacy, there. It’s known as a false equivalence. People’s choice of birth control does not affect the health of others they come in casual contact with.
          Some people cannot get the vaccine due to existing health conditions. The more people who are not vaccinated, the more those compromised people are put at risk. Refusing to get the jab based on mere opinion is irresponsible and selfish. Same goes for those who refuse to wear a mask. Selfishness.

    • Well put, Bob. I agree– Ms. Todd has the right idea about “iconic images” but only uses them as suggestions about how we can open sooner.
      I hope that this summer, businesses on the Vineyard take their legal rights seriously, protect their staff and clientele, and refuse entry to the unvaccinated.
      If any restaurant owners are reading this– advertise that you are providing a safe environment for me and my date, and we will be there. Otherwise, I am exercising caution, and eating at home.

    • There will be enough money spent when 70 percent of the population have immunity.
      If spending $200,000 saves 20 lives will it be worth it?
      What is the value of a human life?
      What is your price elasticity?

  4. Everyone knows about the vaccines. Ads, education, incentives, shaming, civic duty, or reasoning all have no effect now. Those who refuse or remain “hesitant” do not care about human responsibility. Unless there is a medical issue preventing one from taking the vaccine, there is no logical reason, NONE, not to do one’s part in protecting themselves and others. The irony is that the economy would bounce back if we had herd immunity, but thanks to the selfish, ignorant, cowardly refuseniks, we will be stuck with years of variants requiring booster shots every year. People already know exactly what needs to be done to get back our economy and our lives, but too many are too selfish and frankly, too stupid to do it.

    • Well said, Jackie. The severe consequences of this pandemic in the US are the result of ignorance and selfishness.
      Here is an example. New Zealand has a total of 26 deaths out of a total population of 5 million people. Their leader is a functioning adult who trusted the science advisors on how to curb the spread of the disease. Had the US been in a similar state, with an intelligent leader and cooperative population, the equivalent death toll here would be under 3000. Instead, half a million Americans are dead due to gross incompetence and backwardness.

  5. If you want to protect yourself please go ahead and do it but leave me alone and stop telling me what to do with my body(sounds familiar eh?). The only reason I took the vaccines is because governments will soon demand I cant travel without a vaccine so I succumbed. Shaming people about their decisions and their disagreements are all part of the cancel culture and is the same approach used 6o years ago in Eastern Europe by Communists(they also used terror) We now have soft totalitarianism here in the US.

    • Thank you for sharing this observation. Vaccine decisions often come down to personal incentives and reasons. When I fill out an application for my daughter to attend a camp, the first requirement is a vaccine record. If I was an anti-vaccine parent(I’m not), it would technically be my right to make this decision, but it would also be my responsibility to accept the camp’s right to decline my daughter’s attendance. I wouldn’t feel I had a leg to stand on in terms of telling them they had to accept my unvaccinated child. If airlines, cruise ships, foreign governments, etc. demand proof of vaccine, it’s their call and people need to decide what they value more- flying or refusing a vaccine. I’m not traveling anywhere anytime soon, but I opted for the vaccine because 95% protection sounded like a nice number. I wasn’t terribly excited by the 67% efficacy Johnson and Johnson was offering and if that was all that was available on the island, I would have waited. I think we can hold two rights simultaneously- the right of businesses to require vaccines, and the rights of individuals to make their own health choices. When the cost of being unvaccinated is prohibitive due to businesses exercising their rights to refuse the unvaccinated, the numbers will rise. I think this is more effective than finger wagging and shaming campaigns.

      • Well, yes, appealing to the most base, selfish, self-interests of those who don’t care about others, by withholding what they most desire for themselves (travel, dining out, family vacations, immediate gratification, etc) may get some to “succumb” to the vaccine– as we can see here. Caring about the most vulnerable (already born) humans and doing the right, responsible, civic-minded thing for someone or something other than their own interests, is simply not on their agenda otherwise, even after they’ve gotten their shots. Trump made this sort of piggery not only acceptable, but a matter of prideful boasting, something that used to be more shameful than anything else. It’s not “finger wagging” to say something very straight forward about outrageously selfish behavior that hurts others– can even indirectly kill others, like Trump’s covid minizing and lying did. I would no more let a selfish vaccine-hesitency excuse slide by without speaking up, than I would let slide any racist or anti-Semitic remarks go by. It’s not cancel culture OR shaming to object LOUDLY to views that hurt and target the community’s most vulerable.

      • Ms Diez do you have anything else to do than ranting agt me and my post? You invented shaming and you are doing it here. I am not complying and millions of others are not either. I fyou want to double mask while walking in the woods alone in order to protect a 4 year old somehwere please do and feel at peace about your own decisions.

        • Actually, religions and cults invented shaming, like the one you recommended to help islanders deal with addictions by going through an organization’s abusive “christian discipline” to “cure addiction and homosexuality”. Shaming is the religious right’s middle name.

          Using ridicule and dumb exaggerations to belittle courtesy and compassion of civic-minded citizens is, I suppose, a sad attempt at trying to shame me. It didn’t work, but given that spreading misinformation and lies about the pandemic is not allowed here, I can understand you have little to stand on to defend a selfish indifference toward those who can’t take the vaccine. On the other hand, you seem bothered, angry in fact, that I take note of this shamefully selfish, “noncompliant” behavior for what it is–an attitude that knowingly and purposely is a menace to public health.

      • Mr Wise I agree with you completely. And I can also boycott a business that refuses me if unvaccinated.

        • Thank you, Mr. Engleman. Unless the US wants to go down the road of China and the Uighurs, i.e. forced medical decisions, vaccine rates will depend on personal choice. I am pro-vaccine, but I accept that the locus of my control ends with myself. I’m happy to share my experience with anyone who cares to listen (minimal discomfort, a sense of security in knowing the odds of catching have dropped 95%, access to any businesses requiring a vaccine), and hopefully if they’re so inclined, they’ll do the same. I’m also realistic that I can’t make the decision for anyone else.

    • Andrew, should women be allowed to do as they please when it comes to abortion?
      Pregnancy is not a communicable disease, post fertilization.

      • Mr Hess I don’t know what your point is. Roe is the law and I would try to change the law. I am simply asking those who insist on vaccinations to reply to those who don’t want others to tell them what to do with their bodies. Of course they would argue a vaccine denier is a danger to others but an abortion is—————well you fill in the rest.

  6. Interesting when someone admits the only reason they took the vaccine was because of hat they want to do in their life. The hell with everyone else, especially the most vulnerable. How very Christian, eh?

    We need herd immunity to protect our most vulnerable-those who cannot medically take a vaccine and will likely die if they get covid from some young, healthy person who thinks “oh, it’s just a flu and it’s not going to kill me”. We all know someone at risk of dying from this this very contagious disease— an infant or child with asthma, or someone going through chemo perhaps. The vulnerable have to live very sheltered and apart because healthy people don’t care about anyone but themselves and what they want. “Shaming” people for not wearing a mask or refusing a vaccine does not help get more people to behave responsibly. However, a person with nothing to be ashamed of cannot be shamed! Those who know in their heart they are guilty of reckless indifference, shameless selfishness, and gross ignorance/ignoring who their behavior hurts or kills, are easily upset when you notice how ugly and selfish their behavior is. They claim it’s “shaming” or “bullying”. The reality is, the selfishly non compliant are an embarrassment to the community and even themselves, if they’re being honest. They just don’t want you to point it out.

    • Here on the island, I’ve read that 95% of those over 70 are now vaccinated. That is great, but we must not ignore the other most vulnerable population who cannot take the vaccine but deserve to have their lives back as well. I don’t really care why anyone gets the vaccine, as long as they get it.

    • Jackie– some people have plenty to be ashamed of, but have no concept of what shame is.
      Some people just can’t be embarrassed no matter how many times they are wrong, or how blatantly dishonest their comments are, even when their dishonesty is clearly on public display.
      I find it quite ironic that the right wing media is now concerned about bullying.

  7. The only, and I mean *ONLY*, “good reason” to refuse this (highly tested and frankly medical and science miracle if you learn about it) vaccine is because you physically can’t (like, say, chemo patients and those with certain histories of severe anaphylaxis) or… and I say ‘or’ reluctantly, you are so religiously dedicated to a particular faith or denomination that does not allow it – and** if this is the case, personally I hope you would either live in an insular community to mitigate the threat you pose to others simply by interacting with society as an unvaccinated person.
    Because every unvaccinated person is a threat to everyone else. Not only can they be an asymptomatic spreader, but more importantly, they are where disease mutations occur, thrive, and potentially endanger even vaccinated people, putting us all back at square one.
    It is young people who are most likely to be either asymptomatic spreaders or end up with Long Covid, leaving the debilitated for potentially years, after even the most mild of infections.
    Anyone claiming it hasn’t been tested enough, or it was invented too quickly to be trustworthy, needs to simply learn about how this vaccine came to be. SARS and MERS, remember them? They were both Caronaviruses, too. Scientists were 15+ years into Caronavirus research when this pandemic hit. Operation Warp Speed allowed them to narrow their focus on one particular strain (our current one) and allowed them to go through the steps of vaccine development all at once, rather than one at a time. Vaccines used to take ages because before you could try out step 2, step 1 had to be finished. This time, the world emergency allowed 13 steps to all be studied at once. The efficiency is astonishing, not suspect. Plus, they had a what.., 20 year head start in studying how Caronaviruses work?
    Not getting vaccinated is not a “personal choice” and I’m not being nosy in wanting to know if you got one. Because I am one of the people that were I to find myself near you in a store or someplace… you could kill me. That’s personal to ME.

  8. Also, dollars to backdoor-donuts all you naysayers got the Polio vaccine as a child. Congratulations on never contracting Polio.

    • Liz– just fyi “Dollars to donuts” was a widely used term when donuts cost about a Nickle.
      It implied that you were so confident about something that you would risk a dollar to win a donut that was worth about a nickle–
      I have never had a back door doughnut, but my guess is they probably cost more than a dollar.

  9. What if you had Covid, should you be “forced”, “compelled”, “shamed” into getting a vaccination? Or are distinctions not allowed?

    Is everything all or nothing?

    One should never assume another person’s motives.

    • There are reasons not to take the vaccine, including within 90 days after you’ve had covid. Medically, it’s best to wait until after you no longer test positive for antibodies. I’m no doctor, that’s just what I’ve read, so best to ask a medical expert. There is not a single person who says “all or nothing” regarding vaccines. Everyone recognizes there are valid reasons not to get the shots. Selfish indifference toward others is not a valid reason. When someone takes the time to explain exactly what his motives are— to be allowed on an airplane but is otherwise minimizing of risks and utterly indifferent toward protecting others— there is no assumption being made about this particular motive to resentfully “succumb” to the vaccine. When someone tells you he is selfish, it is okay to believe him.

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