A recent poll by NPR and Marist found that as many as 1 in 4 Americans will refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine—a stat that’s largely in line with what other polls have been finding. But given that we need as much as 85% of the country vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity, we need to convince every person we can to get vaccinated.
That’s why the state of California is distributing a new sticker today for anyone who receives a vaccination at a public site. Designed as a pro bono project by the San Francisco design firm Fuseproject, it’s a Band-Aid heart alongside the words “Immunity Together,” and was in partnership with the California Department of Public Health and the Governor’s Office for Social Innovation.
“I think the experience we’re hoping the design will create is pride in getting vaccinated, and relief,” says Tina Hardison, brand lead at Fuseproject. “And I’m hoping, too, when people put it on and wear it out in the world, it will not only help people feel pride, but inspire others to get vaccinated.”
Yes, people are still dying of COVID-19, and this is just a sticker. But California has been trying to put a more positive spin on the vaccination experience. The sticker is an extension of efforts like those at the Moscone Center vaccination site, which plays music such as the Beatles and Beach Boys to keep things light as you wait in line.
The sticker plan is also a good idea, scientifically speaking. Research has shown that those classic “I Voted” stickers may actually help get more people to vote. Meanwhile, some brain research suggests that the best way to nudge someone to a particular point of view is to use figures they respect.
California’s COVID-19 sticker offers the opportunity for both. It’s a wearable, photographable, social-media-postable badge ready to demonstrate the positivity of vaccinations. And given that you’re not supposed to share your CDC vaccination card, it’s a handy, go-to symbol that you can post instead.
The design itself is anything but complicated. Created in just a few days, it’s basically a tidier version of the CDC’s own “I’m vaccinated!” logo, which plays with a similar idea of crossing Band-Aids, though with a bit less heart. The first time I saw California’s logo, I was sure I’d seen it before. John Besford, director of brand at Fuseproject, agrees that it has a natural familiarity by design. “Cliché is the wrong word, but [we] employed iconography that a lot of people use: Band-Aids, heart shapes, healing, as a symbol,” he says. “It’s not entirely unique.”
That said, one specific design choice came at the request of the state of California. The sticker has an English version, but also versions in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog. I can’t help but see many of these badges as doing double duty: On one hand, they promote vaccination. On the other, they also might serve as a token of support for Asian Americans who are facing a crest of violence in the wake of a disease our own ex-president framed in racist terms.
“I think the secondary languages are a positive way of supporting different communities throughout the state,” agrees Besford. “[But] how they distribute these [stickers], I don’t know. I’d love the Chinese one. I think it’d be cool to have different versions at a distribution center.”