Indiana community organizations partnering to encourage conversations about COVID vaccination

INDIANAPOLIS – A coalition of more than 40 community organizations, including the Indiana Region of the American Red Cross, is helping individuals and groups begin conversations with others about the COVID-19 vaccination.

Chad Priest

“We know there is some hesitancy about the vaccines, especially in minority communities,” said Chad Priest, CEO of the Indiana Region of the American Red Cross. “Our goal is to help facilitate conversations so those concerns can be aired out, and people will feel comfortable asking whatever questions they have.”

Working with the COVID Coalition, the Red Cross developed information in multiple languages that can be used by any organization wanting to engage their stakeholders in these critical vaccination conversations. It includes:

Black and Latinx people are up to three times more likely to contract COVID-19 and bear a disproportionate share of illness and suffering from the disease, but distrust of COVID-19 vaccines in these communities leading to dangerously low rates of acceptance. Health experts say 75 percent or more of the U.S. population must get the vaccine to effectively stop the disease.

Katharine J. Head

“We’re hoping to meet people where they are and encourage good conversations from trusted community-based organizations,” said Katharine J. Head, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at IUPUI, and a coalition member.

Vivian Cintron, PhD

“It’s human nature to more easily trust people who look like you, who speak your language, and who know your story because they live it alongside you,” said Vivian Cintron, PhD, American Red Cross board member. “We have already seen a great response to this approach, and we hope to see more in the coming months.”

Reverend David Greene, Senior Pastor of Purpose of Life Ministries, and Red Cross Board member says he, too, had reservations about the safety of the vaccine.

David Greene

“Our objective here is not to force anyone into getting vaccinated,” he said. “Rather, we want to encourage people across this state to take the time to have the conversation with others they trust – friends, family neighbors – ask your questions, investigate the facts and make your own decisions based on what you learn.”

The coalition has been working since last year to build on relationships with minority communities to establish a reliable flow of information about health concerns. An advertising campaign will launch this month in central Indiana and in Gary within weeks.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” Priest said. “Our focus may change from time to time, but the Red Cross has been a trusted organization for more than a century, and we intend to use our platform to improve the health of every Hoosier.

Coalition Members:

  • At Your School
  • Catholic Charities
  • CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions
  • Coburn Place
  • Community Alliance of the Far Eastside, Inc.
  • Early Learning Indiana
  • Easterseals Crossroads
  • Edna Martin Christian Center
  • Eskenazi Health
  • Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana
  • Hawthorne Community Center
  • Heritage Place of Indianapolis
  • Indiana Region of the American Red Cross
  • Indianapolis Public Library
  • Indiana Immunization Coalition
  • Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center
  • Indy Reads
  • Immigrant Welcome Center
  • Jewish Family Services
  • John Boner Neighborhood Centers
  • Keys 2 Work
  • LUNA Language Services
  • Lutheran Child and Family Services
  • Martin Center Sickle Cell Initiative
  • Martin University
  • Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center
  • New Hope of Indiana
  • Noble of Indiana
  • One Voice Martindale-Brightwood
  • Public Advocates in Community Re-Entry
  • RecycleForce
  • Second Helpings  
  • Southeast Community Services
  • St. Mary’s Child Center
  • Tangram
  • The Salvation Army Indiana Division
  • The Villages of Indiana, Inc.
  • United Northeast Community Development Corporation
  • United Way of Central Indiana