Edie Grice, 19, got the idea while talking with her father.
If people receive an “I voted’’ sticker for voting, she wondered, why shouldn’t they have something to represent being vaccinated?
Edie, a junior psychology major at Georgia Southern University, and her father, journalist DeWayne Grice, have been strong promoters of COVID vaccinations in the Statesboro area.
So Edie, with her interest in art, designed a lapel pin that would celebrate being vaccinated for COVID-19. The concept quickly became reality after she connected with a company that could make the pins.
The finished product has an American flag with a big “V” representing vaccination.
The goal of the pins is to inspire conversation – and encourage people to get a shot.
Edie says conversations about being vaccinated will come up naturally as people notice the pins. “People you care about are going to the biggest influencers,’’ she says.
The lapel pins project, in her words, “has really blown up.’’ Edie has so far tracked more than 1,000 sales, with people from 13 states buying them.
They cost just $5 each, but some people have given more. Proceeds go to the making of the pin and to local vaccination efforts, she says.
“We give back to the community,’’ Edie says. “We’re still marketing them. People really got into the project.’’
Edie recently traveled to the Georgia Capitol to meet with Gov. Brian Kemp, and she noticed that he was wearing one of the pins on his own lapel.
“That was awesome,’’ she says. “He was really proud of the project.’’
Many state legislators have received pins, as have workers at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Grices say.
In the meantime, Edie says, she has learned a great deal about sales and packaging.
Stephen Pennington, CEO of the local Statesboro hospital, read about the pin effort in Grice Connect, a local news website run by DeWayne, who may not quite fit the definition of an unbiased journalist when it comes to his daughter.
“It was something very positive, very encouraging,’’ says Pennington, of East Georgia Regional Medical Center. “I’m wearing one of the lapel pins right now on my badge. It’s such a neat idea from a wonderful young lady.”
Pennington adds, “I was in the hospital today and I noticed an intensivist [physician] who takes care of COVID patients had a pin on his lab coat.’’
The pin campaign comes at a crucial time in the vaccination effort, with hard-to-reach communities and reluctant individuals being prime targets for health officials trying to increase the share of Georgians getting the shot.
Vaccination, Pennington says, “keeps our vulnerable patients safe and helps our economy.’’
An ER physician at the hospital, Dr. Ruthie Crider, says the pin effort come at a time ‘‘when people are divided about just about everything. It has been a good unifying effort.’’
Crider, a family friend of the Grices, adds that “it’s a very subtle way to boost the community’s confidence in getting vaccinated.’’
It’s memorable “especially coming from a young person,’’ Crider says. “There’s not a lot of energy and effort to push vaccines in her age group.’’