One Utah county hopes coronavirus vaccine doses are in everyone's horoscopes.
Health officials in Salt Lake County, hoping to sway more residents to go get their shots - suggesting the time is right, now that Mercury isn't in retrograde anymore - analyzed a swath of data about their 1.2 million residents and tweeted a breakdown of their vaccination status by astrological sign.
The tweet Tuesday sparked a wave of social media indignation at Scorpios (the least-vaccinated) and seemed to give Leos (the most vaccinated) one more reason to pat themselves on the back. Vaccination coverage varied widely by sign.
The public response to the post has been overwhelmingly positive, said Nicholas Rupp, communications manager at the Salt Lake County health department - and a vaccinated Scorpio.
"Astrological signs are tribal," Rupp told The Washington Post. "They bring out a competitiveness in people because nobody wants their sign to be ranked lowest, even if you don't believe in astrology."
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Local media outlets including the Salt Lake Tribune first reported the story.
To get these numbers, the county's health department compared the anonymized birth dates of vaccinated residents with data on the national distribution of astrological signs - something Rupp says "we wouldn't normally do if this were an actual scientifically valid study," because national and local sign distribution may differ.
But, he says, the point of the "analysis" was to get people talking about vaccines - even if it's to compete among one another about it.
"The whole purpose of the 10 minutes it took to come up with this was to get the conversation going about vaccination in this time when we're having message fatigue around vaccination," Rupp said.
On social media, users celebrated or commiserated with others who share the same signs as them, with many calling out Scorpios, a water sign that is thought to be characterized by strategic and thrill-seeking behavior.
"I get a kick out of seeing all the Leos patting themselves on the back," Rupp said. "They are really proud of being Number 1, and that's awesome. That's one of the things we hoped would come out of this conversation is people taking pride in doing the responsible thing for our community."
Cities and states around the country have turned to various incentives to get Americans to get coronavirus shots amid a decline in demand for vaccines. Beer, bouquets and a Nissan are just some items on the list of incentives offered to Americans this year.
Businesses across the United States, including brewing companies, doughnut chains and more, also jumped on the national campaign by giving out freebies to the immunized, as governments and employers around the world tried to use tax breaks, airline tickets and other incentives to entice people to get immunized.
Public health officials cautioned early in the vaccine rollouts that luring in apathetes could be the harder part.
Many Americans who want to - and can - get vaccinated have done so by now, and tackling problems of hesitancy, priority and access is vital to getting as many people as possible vaccinated.
According to officials, 678,431 people in Salt Lake County are fully vaccinated, which adds up to about 56% of local residents. That's more than the statewide rate of 54% for Utah.
The Salt Lake County Health Department reported 5,091 positive coronavirus tests in the community in the past 14 days. More than 86% were among unvaccinated people.
"I do want to emphasize that covid and the vaccine are not in any way influenced by astrological signs," Rupp said. "So, please still get vaccinated - even if you're a Scorpio."
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The Washington Post's Ellen Francis contributed to this report.