In this episode, we hear from Dr. Meriam Caboral-Stevens, a nurse practitioner, researcher, and faculty member at Eastern Michigan University School of Nursing and Eastern Michigan University’s Center for Health Disparities Innovations and Studies.
Dr. Caboral-Stevens has been activie in CDC’s COVID-19 vaccination initiative, and specifically works to expand vaccination in Asian American and Arab American communities. She describes this effort as having three components: finding and equipping trusted messengers to those communities, creating partnerships between the community and vaccine providers, and communication about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. She has worked on 10 mass vaccination clinics since the project began in April 2021.
This work has not existed without barriers. Dr. Caboral-Stevens describes issue with transportation, access to technology, and language differences. Cultural humility has been key for her as a Catholic Filipino woman working with Muslim populations. One mass vaccination event was run within a mosque. There is also work done to debunk myths and misconceptions about the vaccine that exist in these communities.
With a goal of getting more young people vaccinated, Dr. Caboral-Stevens’s team has focused on strategies to inform young adults about the safety of the vaccine, including coordinating with social media influencers as trusted messengers. Rather than general information, they work with messengers to discuss what they would like their community to hear and learn.
In discussing how the pandemic will change the healthcare system, Dr. Caboral-Stevens points to one major issue: telehealth. “Before COVID-19, telehealth was kind of like a buzzword…but the majority of health institutions did not have infrastructures for telemedicine or telehealth. I think it will be one of the things that systems and providers will have to embrace…telehealth is here to stay.”
This project was funded in part by a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (grant number NU50CK000580). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this resource center do not necessarily represent the policy of CDC or HHS, and should not be considered an endorsement by the Federal Government.