For our fifth challenge of the 2020-2021 program year, teams of Fellows selected nonprofits to work with that they are passionate about. Utilizing skills developed throughout the fellowship, they co-designed these project collaborations with their nonprofit partner organization. Fellows Asiyah Williamson, Francisco Ramirez Rueda, and Sabrina Fergerson partnered with the local arm of the #Thisisourshot Campaign initiative and Dr. Asha Shajahan. Learn more about the collaboration below.

The #Thisisourshot national grassroots campaign was created by healthcare providers to address the concerns of the community in regards to COVID-19  vaccines. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the threat of medical, health, and science dis- and misinformation. However, medical misinformation did not begin with the COVID-19 pandemic nor will it end with it. Dis- and misinformation are longstanding challenges that operate at the interplay of psychological, social, economic, technological, and political dynamics. COVID-19 misinformation is only the latest expression of new and enduring myths and conspiracies that are (re)framed to fit current contexts.” The objective is to elevate the voices of healthcare heroes in an effort to get people vaccinated against COVID-19 and get to a COVID-free world. 

Our project design prompt: “How might we engage minority vaccine hesitant members of the Detroit community to build vaccine trust towards a COVID-free world?”

Through the design thinking method, we created a survey with Detroit community members to find out why there was vaccine hesitancy.  

When speaking with our stakeholders, we heard that the minority community feels that they have been misled by the healthcare system in the past. We recommend leading conversations around vaccine awareness with empathy.  We believe medical providers need to be able to engage in authentic dialogue surrounding the stem of mistrust. To do that, you need to be well informed on the history of medical abuse towards the minority community.

When speaking with our stakeholders, we heard that individuals found it helpful to have spokespersons be members of the community they’re engaging with. We recommend outsourcing COVID-19 advocates who community members identify as reputable minority leaders to engage within their community.

Dr. Asha Shajahan working in Detroit clinics

When speaking with stakeholders, we found that individuals commonly felt judged in conversation by practitioners due to their vaccine hesitancy. As a solution, we recommend medical officials to engage in unconscious bias training. 

When speaking with stakeholders, we found that individuals felt oppressed in their communities due to various social determinants of health. As a solution, we recommend medical officials to be well informed on what these social determinants are in the greater Detroit community.  We also recommend providing healthcare providers with education on how to dispel misinformation and to address it with patients in a compassionate and non-judgmental fashion. 

We hope that through these findings, healthcare providers can meet patients where they are and engage in compassionate dialogue and enable more people to get vaccinated and ultimately lead us to a COVID-free world.