The places where Americans congregate to learn more and improve their lives are banding together to serve their communities in a different way—by increasing trust in the COVID-19 vaccine at the local level in communities across the country.
Organizations with a vested and proven commitment to the communities they serve are partnering to boost COVID-19 vaccine confidence across the United States. The timely project comes at a critical juncture as the United States is experiencing both a surge in COVID-19 cases related to new coronavirus variants, and an urgent need to significantly increase vaccination rates.
“Throughout the pandemic, our nation’s museums and libraries have supported their communities with critical educational and social services,” said Laura Lott, American Alliance of Museums president and CEO, in a press release. “As community pillars and trusted messengers, they are well-positioned to help build trust in and overcome hesitation to the COVID-19 vaccines.”
The newly launched initiative, Communities for Immunity, is forged through a collaboration among the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the American Library Association (ALA), and the Network of the National Library of Medicine.
“As we continue to see the Delta variant spread across the country, we must come together to fight health misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine—the best tool we have to defeat this virus,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, M.D. “Museums and libraries are the vaults that hold our knowledge and history. They educate us on the discoveries and blunders of our past. That’s the foundation upon which Communities for Immunity will equip the American people with accurate, reliable, science-based information.”
With support from the CDC and IMLS, ASTC will lead the program, which will provide funding to museums, libraries, science centers, and other cultural institutions to enhance vaccine confidence where it matters most: at the local level.
Building on the many ways the groups have supported their communities during the pandemic, the partnership will enable museums and libraries to create and deliver evidence-driven materials and develop resources, programs, and approaches specifically designed to help museums and libraries engage diverse audiences in building trust in the COVID-19 vaccine.
Additional organizations joining in the effort include the Association of African American Museums, the Association of Children’s Museums, the Association for Rural and Small Libraries, the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums, and the Urban Libraries Council. This national coalition of partners will develop vaccine education resources that will be shared with the broader museum and library community.
“Access to information about vaccines and trusted messengers to effectively convey it locally is a matter of life and death,” said Patty Wong, ALA’s president. “America’s 117,000 libraries provide both, serving communities at greatest risk of contracting the coronavirus and those most hesitant to receive the vaccine.”