Yale experts join campaign to boost vaccinations in communities of color

Yale experts have partnered with a national campaign to help healthcare professionals talk more effectively with patients of color about the COVID-19 vaccine.
A healthcare provider and a patient bumping elbows.

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Faculty experts at Yale have partnered with Made to Save, a national campaign working to increase vaccinations in communities of color, to develop a new training video that helps doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals talk more effectively with patients about the COVID-19 vaccine.

The training aims to strengthen trust between doctors and patients in the U.S. about COVID-19 vaccines and to bridge a communication gap between health care professionals and individuals who remain unvaccinated. It will also help health professionals improve their communication skills so they can address the racial inequities in health care that contribute to people’s fears about the vaccine.

Twenty years of research has shown that health care providers are the most trusted source of vaccine acceptance,” said Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health and a lead faculty member on the project. “This training aims to leverage that cache of trust by equipping health care workers with the right words — great communication tools informed by research on what works.”

The new training is especially important given the emergence of the omicron variant, a highly mutated form of the virus that has already spread to more than two dozen countries.

Developed in collaboration with leading behavioral scientists on the Yale faculty, the training is richly informed by the extensive insights gained by Made to Save in supporting hundreds of organizations around the country that are conducting COVID-19 vaccine outreach, education, and clinics in communities of color.

Said Dr. Alice Chen, senior advisor with Made to Save, “We hear from health professionals every day about how challenging it is to reach their patients who remain unvaccinated even as unvaccinated people continue to get sick from COVID-19 and fill our hospitals and intensive care units. The spread of the new omicron variant makes the need for vaccination even more urgent.

At the same time, we also hear daily from people of color who have fears, concerns, and barriers when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines, and many do not feel understood by health professionals.” 

The 23-minute  training has been accredited by Yale, and health professionals will receive up to 1.0 credit toward their recertification requirements. By accrediting the Made to Save course, Yale was able to vastly broaden the potential audience of doctors, nurses, and others while bringing timely content that addresses common challenges many health professionals face everyday when talking to patients.

In the free training video, health care providers are encouraged to:

  1. Ask open-ended questions to get to the root of patients’ vaccine concerns;
  2. express empathy by validating patients’ concerns;
  3. address misinformation by leading with the truth and explaining why myths about the dangers of vaccines are wrong; and
  4. create a plan by offering the patient a shot right then or arranging for an appointment, scheduling a follow-up conversation, and providing them with more information.

The training effort is part of a broader partnership between Made to Save and Yale’s Tobin Center for Economic Policy.

There is tremendous potential to leverage expertise at Yale to tackle pressing issues facing families and communities. Doing so requires great partners,” said David Wilkinson ’06 J.D., executive director of the Tobin Center. “Made to Save’s critical mission, its broad and authentic community reach, and its incredible team make it an ideal partner for Yale to support.”

In addition to Omer, the interdisciplinary Yale faculty team involved in the creation of the training included Alan Gerber, dean of social science, Charles C. & Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of Political Science, and director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies;  Gregory Huber, Forst Family Professor of Political Science; Joshua Kalla, assistant professor of political science; and Jennifer Richeson, Philip R. Allen Professor of Psychology.

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Part of the In Focus Collection: Yale responds to COVID-19

Media Contact

Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-980-2222