Collaborators from USC Annenberg, Cinema and Medicine Produce Short Film on Importance of COVID-19 Vaccination for Children

by Nicki Karimipour and Ashley Phelps — May 04, 2022

As COVID-19 vaccines are approved for pediatric populations, a cross-collaborative effort between the Southern California CTSI, USC School of Cinematic Arts, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and the Keck School of Medicine seeks to highlight the importance of getting vaccinated to protect yourself and your family.

This successful collaboration resulted in the creation, production and dissemination of a short film called Team Player, created to encourage families to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Informed by the most recent research on vaccine hesitancy, Team Player shows parents and kids dealing with resistance to COVID-19 vaccinations and overcoming misinformation with humor and empathy. The video was the idea of Jeremy Kagan, Professor at USC School of Cinematic Arts, and Sheila Murphy, Professor at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Team Player is the third dramatic video Kagan and Murphy have produced with support from VaccinateLA to promote COVID-19 vaccination. Following the success of their first two films during the pandemic, Kagan and Murphy were approached by Michele Kipke and Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, both professors at the Keck School of Medicine and leaders in the CTSI, to create a message tailored for parents who are hesitant about vaccinating their children. Murphy worked with her doctoral student, Ashley Phelps, to construct the core educational messages and Kagan assembled a creative team led by three USC alums, Alejandro Marquez Vela (writer and director), Annika Dawson (producer), and Irina Slepneva (co-producer).

The film has been shared widely with various school districts across Southern California, as well as nonprofit organizations and government stakeholders. The creators hope this film will be disseminated widely to spread the crucial message that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and free. For more information about the vaccine and to find a vaccination site near you, visit

English version of film: 

Spanish version of film:

Jeremy Kagan on the set of Team Player with writer/director Alejandro Marquez Vela, crew, and cast. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Kagan.

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important - All publications resulting from the utilization of SC CTSI resources are required to credit the SC CTSI grant by including the NIH funding acknowledgment and must comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.