Carrie is a retired collegiate educator on a mission to get counter misinformation and convince people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. As a Trusted Messenger, she engages her family, friends, church members and youth in conversations about getting vaccinated. Since December 2020, she has regularly participated in the weekly Resiliant American Communities (RAC) Bay County weekly briefings to stay informed abut COVID-19 iin Bay County.
"I just believe that the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19, and I want everyone to be safe," said Carrie. Her famiily does not allow unvaccnated family members to participate in te few family gatherings that they have had. Together, they are making the effort to keep themselves and others safe.
In December 2020, Carrie was among the group of 20-30 particiants who met weekly to learn from Dr. Albert Mapp and Dr. Ahmad Rifai, local physicians who not only have professional but also personal experience with COVID-19. Dr. Mapp's COVID-19 experience landed him in the intesive care unit at a local hospital. Carrie was able to get her questions answerd and then decided to get the shot when her turn came. As one who had early reservations about the vaccine, she is now a champion willing to help others get what they need to make informed decisions.
When stories emerged that conversations with people they trust was the key difference maker in people deciding to get vaccinated, the LEAD Coalition recruited Carrie and others to become Trusted Messegers. In a training session led by consultant Eula T. Bacon, people are trained to listen and meet people where they are instead of being directive, stern or fussy. Bacon reported that she was successful in convincing a relative to get vaccinated once she stopped being fussy and, instead, listened to his concerns. Then she asked if he would like her to go with him to get vaccinated, and he said yes. The difference was listening to understand the hesitancy rather than being directive and stern.
Working with the local helath department, municipalities, businesses and other community-based organizations, the LEAD Coalition continues to offer vaccine clinics monthly. Like sailing into a headwind, the task of reaching the hesitant is hard. The benefits, owever, outweigh the obstacles in a community that has seen nearly 400 die from COVID-19.
Trusted Messengers are equipped with communication approaches and backed by a multimedia comunications campaign including billboards, radio ads, news media and social media. With less than 50 percent of Bay Couunty fully vaccinated, there are many people to reach...family and friends are the best messengers, trusted messengers.
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