To address vaccine hesitancy and encourage more New Yorkers to get vaccinated against the fast moving SARS-CoV-2 virus, the COVID-19 Vaccine Communications and Outreach Workgroup at NYC Health + Hospitals developed and lead a number of successful models and programs in creating more frontline communicators that serve as vaccine champions and ambassadors to address vaccine hesitancy and increase vaccine rates at the workplace and community. Information retrieved from community engagement through the COVID-19 vaccine champion and ambassador programs also sheds light on the significant role misinformation and disinformation has played and its influence on vaccine decision making.
Dr. Syra Madad is the Senior Director of the System-wide Special Pathogens Program at NYC Health + Hospitals and Health and Safety Lead of the Enhanced Investigations Unit of NYC Test and Trace Corp. Her work focuses on the preparedness for, response to and recovery from infectious disease outbreaks with an emphasis on healthcare and public health biopreparedness. Dr. Madad build NYC Health + Hospitals special pathogens program from the ground up, maintaining readiness for the nation’s largest municipal healthcare delivery system for all infectious disease threats through ongoing training, education, drills, developing protocols, and processes and more. She’s responded to multiple infectious disease outbreaks as an infectious disease epidemiologist including Ebola, measles and Zika. In addition, Dr. Madad is a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs where she regularly publishes on the latest public health guidance, epidemiological concepts and scientific literature to help the public understand complex topics using infographics and simplified science communication. She was prominently featured in the Netflix docuseries, Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak, and the Discovery Channel documentary, The Vaccine: Conquering COVID.