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Rush staff members provided community content, video development for vaccine scenarios and advice for conversation for the vaccine ambassador curriculum and also helped translate the course into Spanish. © Rush University Medical Center

Rush University Medical Center Collaborates With Malcolm X College to Train COVID-19 Vaccine Ambassadors

Published on May 12, 2021

The City Colleges of Chicago and Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) today announced a vaccine ambassador course (VAC) that will provide free online training for people to become trusted COVID-19 vaccine education ambassadors in their communities.

Community members can complete the two-hour online VAC at no cost. It is offered in both English and Spanish through the Malcolm X College Continuing Education Department.

Faculty from the Malcom X College Health Science and Career Programs department developed the course in collaboration with Rush University Medical Center’s interprofessional Community Health Worker Hub, housed in the Office of Community Health Equity and Engagement. Rush staff members provided community content, video development for vaccine scenarios and advice for conversation for the curriculum and also helped translate the course into Spanish.

Members from Rush’s CHW Hub who worked on this curriculum include Christopher Nolan, MPA, system manager, community health and benefit (seen in photo at right); Caroline Santos Volgman, administrative project assistant and Health Systems Management student; Teresa Berumen, program coordinator, CHW Hub (seen in photo at right); Lexi Artman, MS-HSM, project manager, contract tracing program and CHW Hub; Yessenia Cervantes-Vazquez, lead community health worker; Olga Corona, RN, community health nurse; Yessenia Servin, LCSW, community social worker; Ebony Henderson, lead community health worker (seen in photo at right); Sally Lemke, DNP, MSW, MA, director, community based practices (seen in photo at right); Nathaniel Powell, MSW, MA, lead community health worker; and Valerie A. Davis, MSN, RN, CNL, lead community health nurse.

“Now that we are seeing supply of COVID-19 vaccines outpace demand, it’s important that we continue to make sure we are debunking myths and misinformation about getting vaccinated,” explains Nolan. “Having people from the community creating the content and training people to be trusted messengers within their community is a big part of Rush’s mission to meet the needs of the those we serve and achieve health equity.”

Throughout the course, participants will learn:

  • Background about COVID-19 and the United States of America health care system
  • History of mistrust and the root causes of vaccine hesitancy
  • Answers to the most frequently asked COVID-19 vaccine questions
  • How to approach difficult vaccine conversations

Participants who complete the course will receive a certificate of completion and be recognized as trusted messengers of COVID-19 vaccine information. Vaccine Corps Partnership, a vaccine access collaboration, will provide vaccine ambassadors with access to an online learning community, where  they will have opportunities to connect with each other and receive additional training and support.

“When it comes to discussions about COVID-19 and vaccines, Chicagoans trust those they know best more than any celebrity or outside authorities,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, MD. “We depend upon our community ambassadors to speak honestly with their neighbors, families, and friends about the virus and how to fight it.

“There is so much misinformation out there, and some people are reluctant and just want their concerns addressed. They may not necessarily be opposed to getting the COVID vaccine, but they have questions and don’t know who to trust. These ambassadors are a vital link in getting the facts out there and helping their own communities fight COVID.”

For more information and to sign up for the free two-hour online class, click here.

Staff Writer