Opinion | How Communities Can Address Vaccine Hesitancy

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To the Editor:

Re “Those Holding Us Back From Full Vaccination” (Opinion, May 22):

Sema K. Sgaier outlines the four different “personas” of vaccine-hesitant Americans, arguing that to address reluctance, “we need to go county by county and ZIP code by ZIP code, offering specific, localized solutions.”

Schools can help. As trusted community-based institutions, schools are filled with teachers, special educators, social workers and office staff who are well equipped to listen empathetically and address delicate matters like misinformation, complacency, fear and distrust of science that feed vaccine hesitancy.

At our school in Brooklyn, we have created a campaign to understand and address hesitancy. Through town halls and outreach, we are creating safe spaces to hear about concerns. Our teachers and students are digging into the science, data and history of the pandemic and vaccine development. We’re using social media and newsletters to provide easy-to-understand information, translated into multiple languages. We are preparing to set up vaccine clinics.

We can’t afford to leave anyone behind in this vaccination effort, and schools in every ZIP code must do their part. The more Americans who get vaccinated, the more likely the return to school will be equitable and safe for all.

Eric Tucker
The writer is the executive director of Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools and a co-founder of the School Vaccine Hub.

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