Using Storytelling to Increase Vaccine Confidence

The availability of accurate COVID-19 information that is culturally- and linguistically relevant is essential to keeping communities safe. Refugee, immigrant, and migrant (RIM) communities experience numerous challenges to successful COVID-19 vaccination, many of which stem from a different understanding of COVID-19 and vaccines, especially as it applies within their community, as well as a well-founded lack of trust in governmental organizations and systems. These challenges can specifically hinder COVID-19 vaccine roll-out efforts as communities may have additional questions about COVID-19 vaccines’ safety and efficacy. 

Creating Testimonials through Storytelling

Testimonials are successful strategies that portray real stories from community members to communicate trusted information and make positive behavior changes. Partnerships between healthcare providers, community-based organizations (CBOs), and local leaders can identify members and develop testimonials to reach community groups with targeted stories focused explicitly on their COVID-19 vaccine experience. 

Successful Implementation in Minnesota

Somali healthcare providers in Minnesota utilized storytelling to encourage COVID-19 vaccine uptake in their community. Understanding that word of mouth and oral traditions are a prominent feature of Somali and East African culture, Somali healthcare providers used storytelling to encourage other community members to take the vaccine. Providers explained the process of the vaccine, what the purpose of the vaccine was, and what to expect from receiving the vaccine, including possible side effects. Community members who received the vaccine then helped to spread their stories by word of mouth in their local networks to promote getting vaccinated. Sharing their personal experience through testimonials about getting the COVID-19 vaccine was impactful in encouraging community members to get vaccinated and dispel misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine. Respected community leaders, who are also healthcare providers, spreading the word about the COVID-19 vaccine, helped provide ease of mind for those RIM community members who might otherwise be vaccine-hesitant. 

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