Amid the delta variant-fueled wave of COVID-19 infections, the local Health Department is searching among the community for help.
The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services launched a Vaccine Ambassador Program aimed at increasing vaccination numbers within the community.
Vaccine ambassadors will aid the department’s vaccine push by reaching out to family and friends, sharing information on social media, posting fliers and participating in outreach events such as going door to door in neighborhoods.
“The goal is to engage those nearby in small ways that add up and move Boone County forward,” the Health Department said on Twitter Wednesday.
Bill Moyes, 68, is one of those vaccine ambassadors going door to door to educate and help people understand vaccines.
He is a volunteer for the Community Emergency Response Team in Boone County. He became a vaccine ambassador a few weeks ago, before the program had a name and was open to the greater community.
“The public might be more receptive of the message from someone that they could identify with as being a more regular community person,” Moyes said.
He said ambassadors would use their personal experiences with getting vaccinated in addition to scientific information to inform hesitant people they meet.
They avoid arguing with people, Moyes said, instead offering to answer any questions.
“(People) weren’t rude about it,” Moyes said. “There were those who already had strong opinions formed that were different from the message we were trying to spread, and in those cases, we would just thank them for their time and move on to somebody else.”
Their goal is to help people get the correct scientific information for their questions or hesitancy and inform them of upcoming vaccination clinics.
Boone County still leads all Missouri counties in both the percentage of people who finished vaccination, 46.4%, and those who have initiated vaccination, 52.3%, according to Missouri’s COVID-19 Dashboard.
This community outreach program arrives as the state continues to increase in cases amid an unvaccinated-led outbreak of the delta variant, which began in the southwest part of the state.
Boone County had 761 active positive cases Thursday with 85 people in the hospital, 18 of whom were Boone County residents, according to the Boone County COVID-19 Information Hub.
Those interested in applying to be vaccine ambassadors can fill out the Health Department’s form.