Local street artist fnnch's masked honey bear mascot of the pandemic is being put to use in an official capacity in a new ad campaign from the SF Department of Public Health (DPH), encouraging the vaccine-hesitant to go get their shots.
You've seen the honey bears all over town since last spring, after fnnch said he wanted to brighten up boarded-over storefronts with the honey bear image — wearing an N95 mask. Now, over a year since our collective nightmare began, fnnch is getting some city money and you will see a masked and Band-Aided honey bear on posters at bus stops and elsewhere around the city, holding a sign that says "Vaccinated." It's a new campaign being done in partnership between the SFMTA and DPH.
Unfortunately, the URL the city printed on the bottom of the first round of posters is wrong — it should be sf.gov/getvaccinated not sf.gov.com/getvaccinated.
"San Francisco has a history of doing these types of campaigns working with the community and local artists. We’re really reaching people where they live and are,” said DPH Director Dr. Grant Colfax, speaking to KPIX.
Later this week, these vaccinated honey bears are also expected to appear on city buses.
This is the second time fnnch's work has been in the news in recent weeks, after he partnered with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to create Sister Honey Bear prints for an Easter fundraiser.
Vaccine hesitancy among Black and Latinx populations seems to be fading, but a recent Gallup poll still found that we will not approach herd immunity nationally without more buy-in from Americans who are still wary or dismissive of the vaccine effort — thank you, Trump. The poll found that 55% of Black Americans say they’ve either already been vaccinated or plan to get a shot, and that is up 14% from two months earlier. But among white Americans, it's still only 64% of adults who say they've been vaccinated or plan to be, and 61% of Latinx Americans.
"We are addressing questions about vaccine hesitancy and that people have the information they need to make an informed decision," Colfax says to KPIX, regarding the honey bear campaign.
If people get to the correct URL, it takes them to a page that explains all the options for getting a vaccine appointment — and information about the eight prioritized zip codes where low-barrier vaccination is now available on a drop-in basis.
More than half of San Franciscans have already gotten at least a first shot, and eligibility for all ages 16 and up begins on Thursday, April 15.
If you're having trouble finding an appointment, don't give up! They are only released in small batches on MyTurn.ca.gov — and try hunting one down at a Walgreens or CVS elsewhere in the Bay Area if you have access to a car (the CVS website seems to have the most appointments in the early morning hours after 2 a.m.). Or there are also mass vaccination sites at City College and the Oakland Coliseum. And hopefully in a few weeks appointments won't seem so scarce!