How the VaxAMillion Campaign is Fighting Vaccine Hesitancy

Chicago State University is partnering with the Chicago Urban League and the Bronzeville Children’s Museum to bring COVID-19 vaccine awareness to Black and brown communities. 

Students at Chicago State University are encouraging members in their community to get the COVID-19 vaccine through a new initiative called VaxAMillion.

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Dr. Suzet McKinney, principal and director of life sciences at Sterling Bay, a featured panelist in the VaxAMillion campaign’s “Facts over Fear” conversation, says the campaign works to address common misconceptions Black and brown people have about not only getting the vaccine; but fears around going to the doctor.

“What many of them look at are health care disparities that currently exist, many of which have existed for a long period of time,” McKinney said. “We see higher rates of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. The health care system has not always treated Black and brown communities with the same level of dignity and respect. So with the vaccine, many people don’t trust that this is a vaccine that will be helpful, because of specific situations we’ve seen in history. They are the essential workers that are required to be out and continuing to provide the essential services when the disease spread initially started. Being out in the public they were at great risk of exposure.”

One element of the campaign involved asking students to create one-minute videos on why getting the vaccine is important. The most creative video winners received $1,500.

CSU junior Kyra Adenekan’s was one winner. Kyra reminds people who she’s taking the vaccine for.

“All I can do is reiterate what I said in my campaign. I am one of the most vulnerable people [in need of] this vaccine,” Adenekan said. "I have a lot of underlying health problems, my respiratory system isn’t the best, and I’m pregnant. But I have the vaccine. I’ve had it for months and I feel safer. It’s about my family; because my neighbor is a part of my family, my teacher is a part of my family. I want her to go home safe. I’m just happy that CSU gave me power behind my voice.”

As community partners work to call out false information surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine, CSU President Zaldwaynaka Scott says she’s proud to represent an institution that’s playing such a vital role.

“One of the most important things we can do for our future is making sure there’s diversity in health care and science. We have to do something to get cultural awareness and competency in the health care profession. I think that’s one of the things Chicago State brings to the community,” Scott said.

A total of eight videos were produced in the campaign’s first contest round, which will officially roll out on Friday.

VaxAMillion recently hosted its second community vaccination event, where both COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots were offered.

Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3

Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.

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