Teena Chopra, MD, MPH, professor of medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, for Wayne State University School of Medicine and co-director of Wayne State University’s Center for Emerging and Infectious Diseases, is piloting a program that will educate young people in Detroit about the importance and history of vaccines.
The two-year program, supported by a $60,000 grant from the DMC Foundation, will see Detroit high school students educated during the summer months to become vaccine promotion ambassadors. Ambassadors will represent the program in their schools and educate their peers about the history and benefits of vaccines, and the effectiveness of vaccinations in protecting communities. A group of 30 ambassadors will present the information using easy-to-understand PowerPoint presentations, posters and hands-on demonstrations. The ambassadors will aim to reach 2,000 Detroit students.
“This is an incredible opportunity for young people in Detroit who will be empowered to serve as vaccine ambassadors for the city. They will get insight into the history of vaccines and be trained in their communication skills,” said Dr. Chopra, who is also corporate medical director of infection control, epidemiology and antibiotic management for WSU and the Detroit Medical Center, “Our ultimate goal is to improve immunization rates among young people in Detroit We are so grateful to the Detroit Public Schools Community District for partnering with us on this unique project.
The project will also involve WSU medical students, she said. The School of Medicine’s Infectious Diseases Interest Group will serve as trainers for the project.
Dr. Chopra is collaborating with Mathew Seeger, Ph.D., professor of communication at WSU and co-director of the Center for Emerging and Infectious Diseases, on the grant.
“We hope to help high school students become better informed about the importance of vaccinations so they can help educate others,” Dr. Seeger said. “Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and rumors out there. Arming students with facts from credible sources is one way to help communicate the real story of the importance of vaccines.