Many community members have questions regarding COVID-19 vaccines. In particular, organizations that work in the community and often serve as information hubs have a specific need to ensure that their staff have up-to-date information about COVID-19 vaccines that they feel comfortable sharing.
The Vaccine Ambassador program at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) allows MDH staff and community partners to serve as trusted messengers of COVID-19 vaccine information to the local community. Ambassadors receive training to present a Vaccine 101 presentation. Most importantly, vaccine Ambassadors possess a diversity of cultural identities that enable them to authentically engage with their own communities and adapt vaccine information to the needs and values of cultures. MDH has found that more so than the information itself, the community must be able to trust the person delivering the messages. Local organizations and groups can request a Vaccine 101 presentation from the Vaccine Ambassadors program. An Ambassador is then assigned to that presentation based on availability and whether they have language or cultural skills relevant to that community.
In collaboration with MDH, NRC-RIM has adapted a version of the Vaccine 101 presentation for use by others.
Coordinating the Program
The Vaccine Ambassadors are led by two coordinators who route speaker requests, facilitate weekly meetings, and curate a resource hub with up-to-date information and talking points on COVID-19 vaccines. They also collaborate with MDH Vaccine Communications leads to ensure that the Vaccine 101 slide deck is maintained as well as translated into multiple languages common in Minnesota. At weekly meetings with both internal and external Vaccine Ambassadors, the coordinators debrief on presentations from the week and provide updates on any changes or new information.