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UH College of Nursing, Students Selected for National Effort to Build Vaccine Confidence

By Dennis Spellman

March 15, 2022

The University of Houston College of Nursing is one of only ten programs nationwide to receive a grant to build COVID-19 vaccine confidence.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing provided the funding after receiving $1 million from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for an initiative called Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence Among Nurses and in Communities. The effort is nationwide.

A pile of syringes filled with vaccines on a light blue pad.

Although COVID-19 vaccines have been widely available for more than a year, only 64 percent of the US population is fully vaccinated, according to the AACN.

The targeted campaigns are expected “to build confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines and dispel health misinformation,” according to the AACN.

“I was so happy that we received the grant,” said Dr. Lenora McWilliams, UH assistant professor of nursing. “It helps our university when we are recognized nationally. Also it helps our students move forward in their public health studies while empowering them to address misinformation or disinformation related to vaccine hesitancy.”

McWilliams says seventy nursing students will practice responding to numerous objections that they expect to hear from vaccine-hesitant people,

“Students will work together in teams, and we will have them roleplay,” McWilliams said.

A nurse in a red shirt injects a vaccine into the arm of an elderly woman sitting in convertible vehicle.

McWilliams believes this effort will be something nursing students will remember throughout their careers, using the same methods whenever they encounter vaccine-hesitancy, regardless of the type of vaccine a patient is reluctant to take. McWilliams says this campaign is a unique approach.

“I have not been involved in something like this before,” she said.

Students also will carry out a social media campaign and produce printed materials to support their efforts.

“A lot of our students will work on posters targeting specific vulnerable populations that may be at risk,” she said.

“Throughout the pandemic, nurses have played a leading role in confronting this public health crisis and keeping communities safe,” said Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President, and Chief Executive Officer. “AACN will provide guidance and support to amplify the efforts underway at nursing schools to overcome vaccine hesitancy, strengthen community partnerships, and share the latest evidence to help individuals make the smart choice when it comes to protecting their health.”

The campaign will continue through June 30, 2022.

The other nine colleges that received a similar grant are:

  • Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing (GA)
  • Fayetteville State University School of Nursing (NC)
  • Florida State University College of Nursing (FL)
  • Loma Linda University School of Nursing (CA)
  • McKendree University Division of Nursing (IL)
  • Tennessee Tech University Whitson-Hester School of Nursing (TN)
  • The University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing (AL)
  • University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing (MO)
  • University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (PA)

The AACN will create a central online clearinghouse to highlight the work of participating schools, post videos from the funded sites, and share best practices with the higher education and healthcare communities.

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