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Facebook and Instagram launch vaccination campaign drive

Facebook and Instagram are backing a new nationwide social media campaign to boost the vaccine roll-out, alongside support from British institutions like the Premier League and the Beano comic.

The new initiative allows users to update their profiles with a range of specially designed profile frames and graphics, including artwork featuring the NHS and the Premier League.

People can use these to show “I’ve had my vaccine” or make a pledge that “I will get my vaccine” when their time comes. Famous faces including iconic British designer Zandra Rhodes and actor Brian Blessed are among those set to join in with the campaign.

It comes as the UK’s jab count passed 16.4 million on Thursday for first doses and follows a decision from Facebook earlier this month to ban misinformation about vaccines in an effort to prevent the spread of the 'anti-vaxxer' movement.

Similar campaigns on Facebook have been undertaken in the past, such as the ability to put a rainbow filter over profile pictures during the Pride parades or overlays during football's World Cup tournament to demonstrate which team you support.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “It’s truly remarkable how quickly we are meeting our vaccine roll-out targets and so protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“The pace and progress of the roll-out is testament to the way such a huge team has pulled together to support each other through this pandemic, and the tremendous national effort of our NHS workers, volunteers, local partners and the armed forces.”

The range of new Facebook frames and Instagram GIFs will be ready to use on social media from today and will also be available in 13 languages from Monday.

The campaign aims to reach tens of millions of people across the UK as the roll-out continues over the next few months. These will be the first in a series of graphics created for a range of platforms that will launch over the coming months.

NHS England’s primary care director and London GP Nikki Kanani said: “I’ve seen first-hand the enthusiasm for being protected when vaccinating people against coronavirus, and it’s great people have a new way of showing support for the roll-out online – it’s vital everyone is confident to have the vaccine when it is their turn to do so.”

Yesterday, Facebook blocked its Australian users from sharing news on the platform, including official health pages and emergency warnings related to Covid-19, over moves from the country’s government to make online platforms pay news providers for their content.

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