ACHA Awarded $2M from CDC to Promote COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence

March 4, 2021 (updated March 12)

ACHA, in its role as the leading national college health organization, will provide resources and tools to help campuses increase vaccine uptake among students.

ACHA recently received a $2M cooperative agreement award from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support the ACHA Campus COVID-19 Vaccine Initiative (CoVAC) to address vaccine hesitancy, increase vaccination visibility, and combat vaccine misinformation in campus communities. The project will include development and dissemination of a vaccine confidence toolkit for faculty and staff, a social media toolkit, and a national student social media campaign.

It is critical that we promote vaccine uptake among students and campus faculty and staff. According to the latest ACHA-National College Health Assessment data from fall 2020, 23% of undergraduate and graduate students report being somewhat unlikely or very unlikely to be vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 (data collected prior to EUA for Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines). This rate is especially concerning given that communities that are home to a college or university appear to be at higher risk. Additionally, the mass migration events that occur when semesters end and students travel home pose a significant public health threat to communities everywhere.

ACHA seeks to build trust in students and other campus stakeholders by providing them with relevant, credible, accurate information on the importance of getting vaccinated, vaccine safety, and where to get vaccinated. The initiative will include student leaders, influencers, and other trusted sources, leveraging existing relationships to reach all those on campus who may be considering forgoing vaccination against COVID-19. A growing list of partner organizations includes:

  • American Council on Education (ACE)
  • Association for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Life in Higher Education (ACSLHE)
  • Association of College Unions International (ACUI)
  • Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisers (AFA)
  • Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO)
  • Clinton Foundation
  • College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR)
  • Immunization Action Coalition
  • NAFSA: Association of International Educators
  • NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
  • National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Sports Science Institute
  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
  • Vaccinate Your Family

“Based on previous vaccine preventable disease outbreaks on campuses, we know that vaccine refusal can result in significant disruption and illness in the campus community,” says Michael Huey, MD, Interim Chief Executive Officer of ACHA. “We also know that a long history of health inequities in the health care system alongside a separate crisis of vaccination misinformation and disinformation means that a lot of work needs to be done. Our goal with this initiative is to build trust in the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines through outreach to all campus constituencies and to specifically engage in student-to-student campaigns that will reach young adults with messages that resonate with them.”

To lead this undertaking, Claudia Trevor-Wright, MA, JD, MCHES, has joined the ACHA National Office staff as the program’s project director. Claudia is a health educator and attorney with experience in college health, legal, and non-profit fields. She served as the lead health education professional at Wellesley College from 2011 to 2019. In 2019, she launched her own consulting practice and currently works with institutions of higher and secondary education, as well as the American College Health Foundation, on projects promoting HPV vaccination and the Implementation Guide for Sexual Health Best Practices in College Health. Claudia has presented at both NECHA and ACHA conferences on such topics as professional ethics, data disaggregation and health equity, sexual violence prevention, graphic design and communications for health educators, and more.

As part of this initiative, ACHA will invite members to participate in listening sessions and provide members with opportunities to opt into data collection. Educational webinars are also forthcoming.