“Trust the Facts, Get the Vax”-Lucy M., 2023

Sophia O’Hara, Program Manager

This year, WCAAP partnered with two, ninth-grade Foss High School biology classes to promote vaccine literacy and vaccination rates among adolescents. Students completed a unit on COVID-19 vaccines, translated their learning into projects, and then ten projects were chosen to be professionally filmed and shared as peer-to-peer educational content on social media by WCAAP.

Selected projects included mediums ranging from posterboards, to multi-media art, to animations, a board game, and more. Many projects were monolingual and presented in English. Several partners shared bi-lingual content in Spanish, Swahili, and Ukrainian.

Students’ projects countered misinformation relating to COVID-19 vaccines. For instance, Gabby explained that “some people believe that getting the vaccine is like a magnet, or it kills you, which it doesn’t – it just keeps you safe and healthy.” Other topics students discussed included how the vaccine does not interact with your DNA, that getting vaccinated significantly reduces severity of sickness, risk of developing long-COVID, and risk of death.

During instruction, Mr. Kagochi and Mr. Langton (who curated and taught the unit) emphasized the intersection of social justice topics with scientific concepts underlying vaccine function. Students’ projects engaged with why some Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color may be vaccine hesitant, the use of HeLa cells in medical research, and unequal distribution of vaccines globally.

Students also shared personal stories about ways that COVID-19 had impacted their families and loved ones. Noah S., a ninth grader at Foss, said that “My whole household is vaccinated and I think it’s important to get the vaccine because I wouldn’t want to see anyone in my family or around me sick, and I don’t think you would either.” Other students discussed how learning about the COVID-19 vaccine and creating their COVID-19 vaccination project opened dialogue at home around vaccines.

When asked what they hope people take away from their PSA, Lucy said “I hope that people choose to take the information that they have learned and make the best decision for their health and others.” This sentiment of empowering people to make informed health decisions was echoed by most participants. Many students finished their videos with straightforward and succinct calls to action. In the words of Noah U., “Thank you for listening and stay safe.”

Currently you can view each student’s PSA via this link. From there, each video can be downloaded-to be then shared-with or without subtitles. We welcome the content to be shared far and wide to celebrate the participating students’ leadership around vaccine literacy and to broaden the reach of their voices.

Special thanks to everyone who made this project possible from Foss High School Alumni and WCAAP board member Dr. Harbir Juj for bridging this partnership, to Mr. Langton and Mr. Kagochi’s incredible work on behalf of their students, and to Foss High School for hosting us.

Thank you to TriFilm for generously donating your time and resources to filming, editing, and producing the final content. Thank you to Amerigroup for funding this project.

Most of all, thank you to every student who participated, for sharing your learning, experience, and insight.