A new program is recruiting community members to become COVID ambassadors in Indianapolis.
The COVID Community Ambassadors program is open for anyone to sign up to help disseminate COVID-related information, address misconceptions about the vaccines and help community members sign up to get vaccinated.
The program is particularly interested in reaching out to the African American and Latino communities where vaccine hesitancy is widespread.
Judith Smith, deputy mayor of neighborhood engagement at the city of Indianapolis, said in an online public webinar that “it will take trusted individuals to convince certain people to get vaccinated”.
Hoosiers can visit a website and sign up by filling a form to start receiving updated vaccine information as well as social media graphics to share with their networks, family, friends and neighbors.
The program is a partnership between the Indianapolis Office of Public Health and Safety and the Marion County Public Health Department.
Pastor Jeffrey Johnson Sr. of Eastern Star Church in Indianapolis said many in the community are more likely to trust information given by people they already know. He said the myths around the vaccine are not the biggest challenge.
“I think one of the challenges is that Black people live in a nation that have not done them, right, the original sin here is his racism,” Johnson said. “And Black people have not been dealt properly with and our government even dealing with health care have done some things that have damaged our health rather than helped us.”
Johnson, who got both shots of the Pfizer vaccine, said he is not trying to tell people to get vaccinated but he wants to provide them with the knowledge to be able to make an informed decision — and that’s where community ambassadors fill an important role.
He said having Black scientists like African American epidemiologist Kizzmekia Corbett who helped develop the Moderna vaccine as well as other Black health care professionals like Dr. Virigina Caine of the Marion County Health Department involved in the vaccine advocacy is assuring for him.
He urges Black community members to participate in the ambassadorship programs.
The initiative’s goal is to vaccinate 80% of Marion County residents.
You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions about the Covid Ambassadors Program.
To sign up: https://www.indy.gov/activity/vaccinate-indy
You can watch an online conversation hosted by Eastern Star Church addressing vaccine misconceptions featuring Black public health leaders.