Students promote vaccine education in hometowns


‘Students have risen to a challenge that really confronts all of us’: Wartburg college students promote vaccine education in their hometowns

As vaccination rates slow, students at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, have been spending their summer running initiatives to get their hometowns vaccinated.

Nine Wartburg students have been working under professor Caryn Riswold to come up with ways to increase vaccine education and rates in each of their hometowns, as part of a national initiative created by Chicago-based non-profit Interfaith Youth Core.

One of those students is Conner Ambrosy, a rising junior at Wartburg from Long Grove.

“We know that people listen to people that they trust,” said Riswold on why the hometown component of the project is so important. “(The initiative) really was designed to empower the Wartburg students to do work within their own communities.”

The program centers around students coming up with their own ideas; each student has to come up with and execute their own initiative that they think will help get their community vaccinated.

Ambrosy wanted to blend his passions for religion and vaccine education into research that delves into what the Bible says about medicine, because “faith is one of the most important reasons people do or do not get the vaccine,” he said.

His research has consisted of studying the Bible alongside academic texts by experts in the fields of both theology and medicine.

He has been sharing his research and findings with friends and family in Long Grove, and plans to present it to his classmates at Wartburg this fall on campus during a day designated for students to share things that they learned and researched over the summer.

Other Wartburg students in the program have taken multiple approaches in their own home towns.

Riswold said that many of them made meetings with local superintendents, pastors and community leaders about vaccine efforts, while others worked with local hospitals or held vaccine information sessions for their communities.

As summer wraps up, Riswold said many Wartburg students are looking towards continuing this vaccine work.

“That advocacy is now coming back to campus,” said Riswold, referencing that vaccination rates among young adults are relatively low and that these students are looking to change that. “Several of them are going to continue this work.”

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