case study

Promoting COVID-19 Vaccines Among Pregnant People


The Challenge 

People who are pregnant are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, leading to higher rates of hospitalizations and death. While COVID-19 vaccination rates for the general population steadily increased during the pandemic, the rates for pregnant people lagged far behind. Despite evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective during pregnancy, many people who are either pregnant or considering becoming pregnant remain unprotected against COVID-19 because of general vaccine hesitancy, misinformation and doubts.  

Our Approach 

In November 2021, The Illinois Perinatal Quality Collaborative  (ILPQC), which works to equitably improve health for birthing people and babies across Illinois, engaged Burness to develop additional messages and resources to inform decisions about the COVID-19 vaccines and to help physicians have effective conversations with their pregnant patients.   

We started with a scan to review vaccine information and messaging from trusted sources, as well as misinformation related to pregnancy and the COVID-19 vaccines. This research informed the bulk of our work: facilitating a series of patient focus groups and physician interviews to learn more about patients’ reasons for vaccine hesitancy and which messages and messengers would be most effective at overcoming vaccine hesitancy.   

With support from ILPQC and its partners, Burness synthesized learnings and created patient and provider handouts that emphasized the words, messages and testimonials that resonated most with providers and patients, including the powerful story of Kntrice, an unvaccinated woman who became severely ill with COVID-19 and was hospitalized for two months while pregnant. Recognizing the importance of this story, we produced a video in which Kntrice talks about surviving COVID-19 while pregnant and why she ultimately decided to get vaccinated to protect herself and her baby.  

We worked with ILPQC to develop its first online advertising effort to lift the reach and exposure of Kntrice’s story, drive awareness of the importance of COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant people, and target communities with lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates.  We used Facebook’s advertising platform to promote the video to our priority audiences.   


ILPQC distributed the patient and provider handouts to over 350 people at its annual conference and shared them widely through webinars, partner outreach, and its website. For a relatively small ad spend, the video generated high engagement and views reaching over 315,000 individual users on Facebook, with nearly 2,000 additional clicks to the “COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant” CDC page.  

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