OUWB Medical Students Lead COVID-19 Vaccine Education Campaign


A group of medical students from the William Beaumont School of Medicine at Oakland University are leading a critical mission to educate as many people as possible about COVID-19 vaccines.

Ryan Ko, M1, Mallory Evans, M2, and Brandon Prentice, M1, led the OUWB’s COVID-19 vaccine education campaign, working with community partners such as the Baldwin Center, Welcome Missionary Baptist Church and the Gary Burnstein Community Clinic.

With support from Compass, the OUWB community engagement office, the student volunteer group created educational flyers, made themselves available to answer people’s questions about vaccines, and more.

This is exactly the kind of educational push we need right now, said Jean Szura, Ph.D., director of service learning.

“Those who really want vaccines went out there and got them,” she says.

“Now… more vaccines are available, but the population is largely made up of people who don’t want them, who are afraid or who don’t have the information they need.”

Tiffany Loh, an M1 involved in the free student-run clinic at Gary Burnstein Community Clinic, said the team there is constantly looking for new ways to expand and promote public health, which is why the educational campaign about the COVID-19 vaccine was so important. for us to participate.

“There are so many questions about the vaccine from our patients and being able to train our volunteers in vaccine education has helped us get more people vaccinated, lower barriers to registration and promote credible information about the vaccine to the community.

Identify a need

Michigan State Officials reported On May 7, nearly 4.4 million Michigan residents aged 16 and over received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, or 54% of residents in the state.

The state’s “Vacc to Normal” plan is based primarily on four vaccination milestones related to the percentage of residents vaccinated.

According to the plan, for example, in-person work will be allowed for all industries two weeks after 55% of the state’s residents have been vaccinated. The plan ties the lifting of restrictions on other activities – such as sporting events and other gatherings – to even higher vaccination rates.

To help the overall effort to achieve those higher vaccination rates, Ko said he and the other volunteers launched their education effort in November.

They were inspired, in part, after participating in the American Association of Medical CollegesLearn Serve Lead Conference.

Execute a plan

The purpose of the education campaign, Ko said, is “to accurately educate the public about COVID-19 vaccines in any community organization affiliated with the OUWB. OUWB has affiliations with approximately 60 community organizations.

The group hoped that by contacting the organizations, it would help be part of a global effort to slow the rate of COVID-19 infection.

Volunteers strive to meet the group’s goals by providing information leaflets (available in English and Spanish) that contain information and links to COVID-19 related information from CDC and Beaumont Health.

Additionally, the team is handing out free masks, helping people sign up for vaccines, and answering any other questions that may arise.


“As medical students, we have a unique opportunity here to really share the knowledge we have and hopefully reduce the negative effects of this pandemic,” Ko said.

Prentice said he felt a duty to make a commitment and volunteer for the effort.

“I felt it was a responsibility now that I am a healthcare professional,” he said. “If there is a health problem and I have the means to solve it, why not?”

Prentice said he enjoyed being part of the campaign that combines the technical aspects of the medical profession with “the more human side of medicine”.

Evans shared similar feelings.

“I believe that if we – current and future health professionals – cannot be present with people and take care of their fear, our ability to take care of their physical health may be diminished,” she said. declared. “I hope to show my fellow citizens attention and take care of their questions and feelings, even if I don’t understand them. This is why I am involved.

Look ahead

Nelia Afonso, MD, assistant dean for community living and outreach and professor in the Department of Basic Medical Studies, said vaccine education has always been important at OUWB and it makes sense to carry on this tradition with COVID-19.

“Our school has done a good job integrating what I like to call ‘from the classroom to the community’,” she said. “That is, the feeling that students are learning in the classroom, but it is not enough that they answer questions on an exam or get a perfect mark. Students need to be able to pull it out and translate it … they learned how vaccines work, about the COVID-19 vaccine, they learned the reluctance to vaccinate and so now their job is to bring it to the patient level.

Szura noted that the campaign also fits directly into the OUWB’s approach to community service and the values ​​of independent learning and students serving as educators.

“This not only fits the mission, vision and values ​​of OUWB, but also the focus we put on medical students as educators in the community and taking on leadership roles,” a- she declared. “I was so impressed with the students because from the start they wanted to make sure they were aligning everything with what the OUWB believes.”

Ko said the immediate plan is to continue the program and get its message out to as many OUWB community partners as possible. The group is looking for more volunteers. Anyone interested can send an email to [email protected]

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, Marketing Writer, OUWB, at [email protected]

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing website Web page.

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