Johns Hopkins Launches Free Virtual Course to Train “Ambassadors” to Talk to Parents About COVID Vaccines for Children

Originally posted on JHU.edu

In collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Consortium for School-Based Health Solutions, IVAC faculty have just launched a free online course, “COVID Vaccine Ambassador Training: How to Talk to Parents.”

Designed for parents, teachers, and school staff, this online course aims to provide “vaccine ambassadors” with the tools to discuss concerns about COVID-19 vaccines with people in their communities. The self-paced course teaches adults how to have respectful and empathetic conversations with parents and guardians who remain hesitant about vaccination for their children, even if they are vaccinated themselves.

“Having conversations about COVID-19 vaccinations, can, at times, feel uncomfortable, especially if parents don’t see eye to eye or the conversation turns political, but we need to have this kind of dialogue with one another if we’re going to move forward in this pandemic and begin to address vaccine hesitancy. While these vaccines work, unless children and their parents feel confident pursuing them, we’ll continue to see COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and death rates go up.”

Rupali Limaye, PhD, MPH, director of Behavioral and Implementation Science at the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

The goal of the course is to empower more people to communicate with parents in the U.S. who have concerns about vaccinating their children, despite the availability of safe, effective, and free COVID-19 vaccines for children ages five and up. In recent weeks, COVID-19 hospitalizations in children have spiked to record levels, including among unvaccinated children ages 5 and up who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 672 children age 17 and under were admitted to hospitals every day with COVID-19 during the week ending Sunday, January 2—the highest such number of the pandemic. These numbers underscore the urgency to get eligible children across the country vaccinated and boosted now.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Ambassador course covers evidence-based communication strategies, with video explainers and FAQs about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines, as well as lessons on how to engage in constructive conversations about vaccine hesitancy. The course also includes reliable sources of information about COVID-19 vaccines, an important tool in discussions around vaccines.

“When it comes to COVID-19 vaccination, it’s important that parents, educators, and school staff are equipped with the knowledge to make healthy decisions for their own families and to encourage others in their communities to do the same. These vaccination decisions and the ambassadors who encourage them can help save lives and prevent serious illness in our children.”

Sara Johnson, PhD, MPH, associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health, director of the Rales Center for the Integration of Health and Education at Johns Hopkins, and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Consortium for School-Based Health Solutions

The new course is available on Coursera.org and is the latest offering from the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Training Initiative. The Initiative, which launched in May 2020 with a contact tracing course that has had more than 1.3 million enrollments, offers expertise and practical guidance from Johns Hopkins and other experts to help address the pandemic response.

Resources from the course

Watch and share all of short videos from the vaccine ambassador course on the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health YouTube page

Find expert answers to the most common questions from parents about COVID-19 vaccines for children (available for download as a shareable PDF in English and Spanish).

Funding support provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Consortium for School-Based Health Solutions.