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Johnson County businesses providing postcards to encourage vaccination

Published: Sep. 4, 2021 at 10:49 AM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Postcards have started to pop up in Johnson County businesses with a special message: “Sending you this note to remind you I care about you.”

And it’s not just a nice sentiment; it’s also a way to encourage people to consider getting vaccinated.

“When I saw the idea, I was encouraged,” Adam Kahler, the director of guest experience at the Highlander Hotel in Iowa City, said.

The Highlander was one of the businesses making the cards available to their customers. Kahler said the newly-renovated hotel along Interstate 80 struggled with occupancy, a problem not uncommon in hospitality over the course of the pandemic. He said his business was down 60% to 70% during the week.

Kahler said not only was he hoping vaccines might bring increased travel, but he knew firsthand how difficult it could be to convince a loved one to get vaccinated.

“We need to have a candid conversation with your loved ones,” Kahler said.

Susan Vileta, an educator with Johnson County Public Health, said the postcards were meant to attract older people, who are more likely to use the postal system, to send a postcard to younger, unvaccinated friends and family.

“Two people have a lot of sway in everyone’s health matters,” Vileta said. “Your healthcare provider, your friends, and family.”

Vileta said the people 26 and older understood the importance of getting the vaccine; 82% of that group in Johnson County were vaccinated. She said when you add the 12 and up population the percentage drops to 73%.

“You need to dig deeper and find that common ground,” Vileta said. “You need to find out what their reasoning might be even if it might be opposite of yours. Empathy goes a long way to someone maybe learning one little tip that might get vaccinated.”

It was that kinder approach to a tense talk Kahler said needed to happen to bring families back together and get people traveling once more.

“As a business, to restore hospitality to pre-pandemic levels, we need to put our best foot forward,” Kahler said.

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