OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A University of Kansas Medical Center program is using federal CARES Act funds to help debunk COVID-19 vaccine myths and encourage testing and vaccinations throughout the Kansas City area.
"I'm Telesha. I got my test and vaccine, so I can protect my family, friends and you," Telesha Bennett, with KC Care Health Care Center, said as she was filmed for the campaign. "Please help us overcome the pandemic by getting tested, wearing your mask, washing your hands and getting your vaccine."
Bennett, along with Essence Miller, who also works at KC Care Health Center, and other community health care workers spent Tuesday taping videos for Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics for Underserved Populations (RADx-UP), a KUMC program using a CARES Act grant to increase COVID-19 testing in underserved populations.
This campaign also is about debunking vaccine myths.
"I chose to get the COVID vaccine despite the rumors [of] it having a chip or a tracking device," Miller said during her recording session for the video campaign.
Paloma Martinez, RADx-Up communications coordinator at the KUMC, said they know a lot of misinformation exists around COVID-19 and its vaccines, which is why they are featuring "real people, community health care workers" in the campaign.
"They know first hand what the community needs and that they are suffering right now," Martinez said.
Each health care worker's story will be personalized to their specific niche within the field.
And though the grant focuses on testing, the campaign also will encourage people to get vaccinated.
"I was skeptical at first, just due to the history of how Black people have been experimented on in regards to vaccines," Miller said. "But I had several friends get the initial rounds of vaccines. I myself got the J&J vaccine, and I didn't have any problems with it."
More than 10 videos will be shared on social media in the near future, many in languages such as Spanish and Swahili – and more – to ensure everyone understands the importance of COVID-19 testing and the vaccine.
"There are people who are out here who got it when it first came out like myself and that we are still here," Bennett said. "We are OK, and it's very important. That's whats going to help us get back to normal as possible."