FILE - Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois Department of Public Health, 1-30-2020

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, speaks at a news conference Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Chicago.

(The Center Square) – Illinois residents who are reluctant to get vaccinated for COVID-19 are the target of a new ad campaign by the state of Illinois.

The "On the Fence" campaign features 18 separate stories from Illinoisans who at first resisted getting the shot but have since been vaccinated.

The campaign will be sent out across the state in both English and Spanish through a variety of online media channels, including cable, broadcast and connected TV; streaming audio and radio; billboards and bus shelters; digital display and video, and print and social media.

Similar to other coronavirus-related expenses, state officials say the costs are reimbursable by the federal government.

We understand there are still people who have concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines, and I urge them to talk with a health care provider as well as others who have been vaccinated,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. “Safe and effective vaccines have been used for more than a year now, longer if you include the clinical trials, and they have good safety and effectiveness records. People receiving the COVID-19 vaccines are experiencing significantly reduced rates of hospitalization and death. They are recommended for everyone 5 years and older.”

According to IDPH, 69% of Illinoisans 5 and older are fully vaccinated, while 78.1% have received at least one dose. Nearly 20,000,000 doses have been administered in Illinois.

Vaccination rates continue to lag in counties in downstate Illinois. Vaccination rates in Shelby, Clay, Fayette and Wayne remain below 40%. In Alexander County, only about 20% of the population is fully vaccinated.

The ‘On the Fence’ campaign is part of the state’s larger ‘All in Illinois’ effort encouraging Illinoisans to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated and boosted.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.