Vaccine Champions will be trained to accurately answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and promote vaccination within their communities with trainings beginning March 18, 2021.
PHILADELPHIA – Philly Counts today announced details of a new COVID-19 Vaccine Champion training program. The program follows a structure similar to the Census Champion and COVID-19 Community Response Captain programs. Through this community engagement model, Philly Counts has successfully trained more than 8,000 people who were able to return to their communities as a trusted source of information and support.
“Philly Counts’ engagement model has focused on leveraging community networks to further key administration priorities and to increase overall civic engagement in pursuit of a more equitable democracy in Philadelphia. The trusted messenger model has been key to assisting the City’s COVID-19 response. Now, Philly Counts is helping direct community engagement efforts around the COVID-19 vaccine, empowering community leaders to share information about the vaccine, as well as other critical public health guidance with their families and neighbors,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.
In partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Philly Counts will utilize its existing network of staff and volunteers to provide COVID-19 outreach, education, organizing, and canvassing efforts to ensure Philadelphia’s most vulnerable residents are able to learn about and get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We know that Philadelphians have many valid questions about the COVID vaccine,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “These questions won’t be answered by a fact sheet or website. They need to be asked to a person who can be trusted. We’re excited to partner with a group as well-respected as Philly Counts to help spread the word and help folks think about getting vaccinated.”
A Vaccine Champion is a trusted messenger trained to deliver accurate information about the vaccine to their peers. The COVID-19 Vaccine Champion training will be a 90-minute multilingual session that covers a variety of topics related to the COVID-19 vaccine. This will include:
- General information about the vaccine and its safety
- Benefits of getting the vaccine
- Philadelphia’s phases for eligibility
- Ways to get vaccinated in Philadelphia
- Information on translation services and privacy protection for immigrants, undocumented communities, and individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP)
- Tips for a successful conversation addressing mistrust and disinformation
At the end of the training, participants will apply knowledge during the practice session, allowing them to have difficult conversations with other participants and motivate them to get the vaccine when it becomes available to them.
“Vaccine Champions will be part of a growing network that shares critical information to educate the public and increase uptake of the vaccine through a neighbor-to-neighbor strategy. The relationships Philly Counts established with its community partners provide an infrastructure that is being used now to ensure that every Philadelphia resident understands why they should consider being vaccinated,” said Stephanie Reid, Executive Director of Philly Counts.
The first Vaccine Champion training sessions will take place on March 18 and will be available via Zoom in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. Individuals can choose the session that works best for them based on language using the list of events available on phila.gov/phillycounts. After March 18, additional weekly sessions will be open to the public.
After completing the first training, Vaccine Champions will get a certificate and the exclusive opportunity to join Jefferson’s Real Talk training. In this supplemental training, people can ask Jefferson Health doctors specific medical questions related to the COVID-19 vaccine. These sessions will also be held in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. After completing both trainings, the Vaccine Champions will be fully prepared to start talking to their friends, families, and neighbors about our community immunity goal.
In February 2021, Philly Counts pivoted its work to assist with vaccine distribution and community engagement. The team began conducting a Philly Counts COVID-19 Vaccine check-in phone bank in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. To date, Philly Counts volunteers have called 6,028 Philadelphians, assisted 101 Philadelphia residents in completing the COVID-19 Vaccine Interest Form, and recruited 20 people willing to serve as vaccine engagement volunteers. Philly Counts staff have also organized nine focus groups, interviewed 76 Philadelphians, and recorded 11.5 hours of feedback related to potential ad campaigns and vaccine attitudes and perspectives.