Upham’s Corner Health Center COVID-19 vaccination campaign

Upham’s Corner Health Center


Although the emergence of safe and effective vaccines offered hope during the COVID-19 pandemic, this community health center in Boston knew it would need a smart and culturally sensitive campaign to convince both staff and patients to roll up their sleeves. A combination of online, print, mass media, and individual outreach succeeded in doing just that — and building relationships in the process.

The Challenge

Upham’s Corner Health Center offers complete medical, eye, dental, and eldercare services to the residents of the Dorchester section of Boston and surrounding neighborhoods, many of whom are immigrants and people of color. 

In late-2020, in order to provide relief and additional resources to its patients, community members, and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, Upham’s needed a communications plan to support the rollout of long-awaited vaccines.

Step 1: Staff

We first needed to inform and encourage staff members to get the vaccine so they in turn could become effective patient advocates. Internal communications included:

  • Regular emails from the CEO and Chief Medical Officer with information from trusted sources.
  • An organization-wide webinar.
  • Talking points for managers for one-on-one conversations with hesitant staff.

Staff members even shared photos of themselves receiving their vaccine doses and personal quotes to inspire confidence among their colleagues.


Step 2: Vulnerable populations

After front-line health care workers, we sought to reach eligible patients, especially older adults and patients with underlying health risks:

  • Direct marketing to existing patients via phone, text, email, and mail. 
  • Printed flyers in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, and Vietnamese.
  • Testimonial videos in multiple languages.
  • An informational video with FAQs and a vaccination demonstration.
  • Landing pages with vaccine information.
  • Photos and videos on social media channels.

Mindful of cultural sensitivities, we offered the most accurate and clearest information and encouragement but at all times strived to remain respectful and let patients make their own informed decisions.


Step 3: Widespread outreach

At the beginning of April 2021, Upham’s partnered with the City of Boston, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and medics from the Massachusetts National Guard to offer vaccinations at the historic Strand Theatre in Dorchester. 

To promote the effort, we created a unique visual brand to use across marketing channels, including multilingual community posters, website and social media updates, and location banners and signage, as well as swag bags and staff t-shirts. Many of these included QR codes for quick access to the latest information.

Paid advertising and mass media outreach reached several local media outlets, including NPR affiliate WBUR, community newspaper The Dorchester Reporter, and local ABC affiliate WCVB-TV, and local elected officials visited the site to receive their vaccinations.

Play Video about WCVB-TV newscaster Doug Meehan at the Strand Theater

Along the way, we also enlisted staff in generating content, with tips on how to shoot photos that offered context, e.g., rather than simply showing posters in windows of local businesses, include the business name and employees in the image as well. 

Speed was of the utmost importance; photographs and videos taken by staff members on their phones might lack the polish of work by professional photographers, but they were easy to post quickly and conveyed the message effectively.

The Result

In addition to administering 20,000 vaccine doses, the program helped build a bridge with the community to promote future engagement with the health center. This began a new relationship with local residents for regular medical services like primary care, eye tests, dental cleanings, and more. 

Photo of Joe Schick

Joe Schick

Principal & Co-Founder

Joe has been a business development professional in the publishing and software industries since the early 2000s, holding positions at Pearson, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Bibliotheca, and Plotagon, and has extensive experience with negotiating international content licensing deals. Along the way, he learned to write, pitch, present, and sell. Joe is a native of Pennsylvania and a graduate of Brandeis University. He’s a fan of historical thrillers, classical music, tasty food, and Oxford commas.