Promoting Equitable COVID-19 Vaccination through Peer-to-Peer Youth Outreach
During the COVID pandemic, PHI’s FACES for the Future program pivoted quickly to provide education and support, including training students from its FACES Public Health Youth Corps as peer COVID vaccine educators. Working in four states, the peer educators provided information about the COVID vaccine and other ways to stop the spread of the virus and had the opportunity to participate in certification courses.
310 students trained by FACES as peer COVID vaccine educators
86 zip codes in four states where students worked
26 languages spoken by peer educators providing COVID and vaccine information
Capacity Building & Leadership, Communicable Disease Prevention, Women, Youth & Children
School-based Efforts, Workforce Development
Health Education & Promotion, Leadership Development
COVID-19, Vaccine Access & Equity
Tomás A. Magaña, MD, MA, FAAP
In 2021, PHI’s FACES for the Future program (FACES) pivoted its high school health professional training initiative to build a teen COVID peer educator workforce. The Public Health Youth Corps trained youth in California, New Mexico, Colorado and Michigan as peer educators. Students learned how to talk to their friends, families and community members about the COVID vaccine and about other ways to stop the spread of COVID. About 310 FACES students participated in the program and also had the opportunity to participate in certification courses for CPR/First Aid, Mental Health First Aid, Stop the Bleed training and Narcan/Opioid Overdose Intervention training.
The peer educators worked in 86 zip codes, speaking 26 languages. They connected with peers and families to educate communities that have been hard hit by the virus, covering topics including mask wearing, social distancing, and vaccinations.
FACES trains high school students primarily from low-income communities of color to provide support and opportunities to youth who are seeking options to improve their lives and to address the lack of diversity in the health professions that contributes to health disparities in diverse communities.
Data from the youth revealed:
- 52% of FACES youth will be first generation college students
- 1,044 professional certifications were earned by students in the FACES program
- 92% of students agree that FACES gave them opportunities to explore different careers in the health professions
- 88% of students agree that FACES gave them opportunities to build their leadership skills and be a positive example to their peers
- 92% of students agree that the health professionals hosting their internship taught them new skills that will help them in the future
- 87% of students agree that they have a caring adult in their life that they can turn to for guidance
- 88% of students agree that they will attend a college certification program immediately after completing high school
- 88% of students agree that they know about the different career options available to them in the health field
- 87% of students agree that they understand the steps they need to take in order to achieve the career of their choice