YPSILANTI — The Eastern Michigan University Family Empowerment Program, in collaboration with EMU Regent and public health expert, Dr. Jessie Kimbrough Marshall, have launched a Vaccine Education and Outreach Effort to educate the public about COVID-19 vaccines and access to getting a vaccine locally.
“As public health experts and community leaders, it is part of our duty to ensure our community members have the resources and information they need in order to make an informed decision about the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Kimbrough Marshall.
On the ground efforts
The effort kicked off with nearly 30 volunteers going door-to-door to all 342 homes in the Ypsilanti Housing Commission communities on March 26-27 to educate residents on the three approved vaccines, as well as provide information on local vaccine access.
“It can be overwhelming to try and sift through all the information out there on the vaccines—let alone understand it,” Kimbrough Marshall continued. “The Vaccine Education and Outreach Effort serves to provide critical information about all three of the vaccines in a way that is easy to understand in order to help people make an informed decision.”
Coordinated by Engage@EMU’s Graduate Assistant, Jenice Lee, volunteers included EMU staff, students, local community members, and more. During the two-day initiative, they spoke to 200 residents.
“After recent discussions about planning a vaccine clinic on site at New Parkridge within the Ypsilanti Housing Community, we quickly realized many people didn’t feel they had enough information to make a decision about getting a vaccine and which vaccine to get,” said Marquan Jackson, director of the Family Empowerment Program.
The effort was an opportunity for the FEP and other community leaders to engage with local residents to provide information on all three vaccine options in a way that they could then make an informed decision for themselves and their families.
“We found that residents were really grateful for the surprise knock on their door, which is all we could have hoped for.” he said.
A virtual component to the effort, an open-to-the-public webinar will also be hosted on Wednesday, March 31 at 7 p.m. on Facebook Live through the Engage@EMU Facebook page. Speakers for the webinar include Regent Kimbrough Marshall and Dr. Kiela Samuels, Clinical Pharmacist and Professor, Washtenaw County Community College and Michigan Medicine.
During the webinar, the speakers will provide information on currently available COVID-19 vaccines, as well as discuss and highlight COVID-19 vaccination racial disparities, benefits of the vaccination, side effects and safety concerns, and how to get registered to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. There will also be a brief Q&A to answer any audience questions.
“This effort is so critical in making sure our community is educated and has access to information needed in order to make an informed decision about the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Decky Alexander, EMU professor and director of Engage@EMU. “She really wants to understand the community and help to make an on-the-ground difference, even beyond EMU’s walls.”
The Family Empowerment Program, housed under Engage@EMU, supports individuals and families through resource navigation and community building in order to foster self sufficiency and enhance quality of life. The program is coordinated by on-site social workers and is a key point for social, health and economic access, education support and community navigation. FEP serves families living in all Ypsilanti Housing Commission (YHC) communities. Through partnerships and programming, the FEP has developed a social services program whose purpose is to substantially improve the educational, health, and economic outcomes for 900+ individuals currently living in YHC communities.
About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.