Mississippi State assembles team of student Vaccine Ambassadors to help answer questions, share personal experience with COVID-19 vaccination
STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Mississippi State has assembled a team of students they are calling vaccine ambassadors who are tasked with helping spread information and answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccine among their classmates.
MSU’s Office of Student Affairs says it’s all about putting a human face on all of the facts and data behind the shots as well as help with the school’s various popup vaccination clinics.
“One of the clinics I worked at, a friend of mine actually came in to get her vaccine and she asked if I would hold her hand,” says MSU senior Madeline Enlow, who has been a vaccine ambassador for three weeks.
That level of trust and personal connection is what Mississippi State hopes can convince more of their students to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
“It’s something that now is still actively happening and (students are) seeing their classmates and their friends who live next door to them or down the hall having to quarantine or getting COVID with this new variant,” Enlow says.
According to a school survey, about 75 percent of the staff and just over 50 percent of the student body at Mississippi State are fully vaccinated. The Office of Student Affairs assembled a team of 20 students from various backgrounds across the student population.
“Whoever comes to us and says that ‘Hey, I don’t want to get the vaccine,’ I think, step one is to say that ‘You’re not a bad person for thinking that way,'” says Mayukh Datta, one of the newer ambassadors. “Step two is to say, ‘You getting the vaccine is the first step for you to protect the lives of your loved ones.'”
Enlow and Datta each have a personal connection to COVID-19.
“I’m a type one diabetic and so when the pandemic started, at the forefront of my mind I was like, ‘I’m at high risk and I don’t know what to do about this,'” Enlow says. “Just kind of being in a state of fear.”
“I never had COVID but my parents, my loved ones definitely did,” Datta says. “(I talk) about their experiences with it in the hospital in the ICU and how terrible it was for them to go through.”
These ambassadors say that connecting with other students and understanding how to reach them is already helping to change minds.
“Being just a peer and a friend and people that somebody can see walking on the drill field and smile at them and letting them know, ‘Hey, this is why I got it and I care about you and think you should as well.'”
The school administered a record 134 shots during their August 24th vaccination clinic in the wake of the Pfizer vaccine becoming FDA certified. MSU will be holding more on-campus vaccination clinics all throughout the final week of August and into September.