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Vancouver Coastal Health turns to TikTok to curb COVID-19 among young adults

Last Updated Aug 22, 2020 at 3:11 pm PDT


Vancouver Coastal Health launched its own TikTok account to spread COVID-19 safety to young adults

New COVID-19 cases among people aged 20 to 39 have spiked since Phase 3 of B.C.'s restart plan

VCH hopes the light-hearted nature and trends of the app will help pass along important messages

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Hoping to go viral the right way among young people, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) has started its own TikTok account to spread COVID-19 hygiene, as new cases among younger demographics continue to rise in B.C.

The account @vch.healthtok went live two weeks ago and has since promoted COVID-19 facts along with physical distancing and health guidance, all while using the app to deliver the message with the help of popular music and memes.


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And while the staff are no TikTok royalty such as the likes of Charli D’Amelio or Zach King, they hope the light-hearted nature and trends of the app will help pass along important messages about staying safe during the pandemic.

“Our team is largely made up of people in their twenties and thirties. The star of the video is on our digital team,” Deana Lancaster with VCH said. “It’s kind of like millennials speaking to millennials. It’s not like the adults in the room are trying to deliver the message.”

People between the ages of 20 and 39 years used to make up 21 per cent of the province’s new COVID-19 cases during the first phase of the restart plan, according to VCH, but since moving to phase three, they now make up 56 per cent. Meanwhile, the median age has dropped from 57 to 34.

(Courtesy BCCDC)

The health authority attributes the rise to a variety of things such as businesses where young adults work reopening, and an uptick in large gatherings and parties.

For most young adults, COVID-19 causes very mild illness, but they may unknowingly spread the virus to seniors and others with compromised immune systems.


Lancaster says the trick is getting approved messaging to mesh with current trends.

Danika Thibault is the one people see in all the videos so far and says it’s been a fun way to encourage young people to follow health advice.

“I think we’re trying to do a balance of ones that are messaging heavy and ones that are a bit more light-hearted and fun, and just get people watching,” she says.

@vch.healthtok##covid19 ##vancouver ##vancity♬ exile – Taylor Swift

A comedian on the side, but on the bench because of the pandemic, she says this is a great change to bring some creativity to the message.

“Doing standup, a lot of comedians have obviously pivoted to more online platforms since we can’t do standup in clubs right now,” she says. “You just have to not be worried about embarrassing yourself. There’s definitely the possibility I’m going to be roasted online.”

Other tools VCH is using include poster campaigns in high traffic and popular nightlight areas, along with other social media safe summer campaigns.

@vch.healthtok3 things not to do in the club that just make sense ##covid19♬ Yeah! – Usher / Lil’ Jon