Michigan community-academic partnership awarded additional $1.8M to support COVID-19 education and dissemination efforts

June 15, 2022  //  FOUND IN: News

Michigan CEAL: Communities Conquering COVID, a member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded initiative Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities, has been awarded $1.8 million to support an additional year of community-based COVID-19 interventions.

The Michigan CEAL team (MICEAL) will continue its partnership with many community-based organizations and leverage long-term relationships in the community and the university to understand and address factors that contribute to the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 and vaccine hesitancy along with reduced vaccine uptake among the communities.  

Michigan CEAL is a transdisciplinary partnership led by principal investigators Erica E. Marsh, M.D., MSCI, FACOG, S. Jan Behrman Professor of Reproductive Medicine, division chief of reproductive endocrinology and infertility, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and associate director of the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR); and Barbara A. Israel, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., professor, U-M School of Public Health, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education (HBHE), and director, Detroit Urban Research Center.

Project efforts are focused on alleviating COVID-19 health disparities among Michigan’s most disproportionately affected communities — African American/Black and Latinx communities in Genesee, Kent, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. The partnership is guided by members of a steering committee composed of partners from U-M and leaders from many community-based organizations, and health and human service agencies from the four counties directly involved.

“The continuation of the MICEAL project and partnership provides an exciting opportunity for ongoing work with our community partners to enhance our communication strategies with members of the local community who remain skeptical of the vaccine, in hopes of turning them around to both embrace the benefits for themselves and other members of their community,” Israel said.

Using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, in the third year of the MICEAL effort, the team aims to implement effective community driven strategies that engage marginalized communities in COVID-19 research, address vaccine hesitancy, providing up-to-date scientifically sound vaccine information and education to reduce health inequities. The work is guided by the steering committee members who contribute their expertise with shared responsibility and ownership, as we continue to engage in applying the CBPR approach.

Angela Reyes, executive director and founder, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation (DHDC) and a member of the MICEAL steering committee said, “Supporting Detroiters and those in Wayne County, especially Black and Latinx communities is essential with funding through the CEAL, as the pandemic greatly impacted those communities.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues there is still a great deal of work to be done. The MICEAL team will continue to support partnerships built and sustained over the last year and a half to focus on empowerment, education and awareness.

The team will disseminate new information while continuing to review and analyze data from the first year and a half of MICEAL. All new information will be shared with the communities of focus with the goal of increasing knowledge and understanding aimed at changing behaviors that will protect the individuals and their communities from COVID-19. A toolkit is being developed to help community organizations improve awareness, understand vaccine uptake and implement strategies to decrease hesitancy. Toolkits will include both virtual and physical components.

“Our community partners continue to pave the way with their expertise, insights and lived experiences,” said Marsh. “We are excited to continue this journey with them and bring novel data, interactive events, training, and tools that will decrease vaccine hesitancy and get us closer to making COVID-19 a thing of the past.”

The MICEAL team will apply lessons learned as new age groups become eligible to receive the vaccine and boosters and as new variants continue to emerge and spread.

For more information on Michigan CEAL contact Kelly van Frankenhuyzen at kvanfran@med.umich.edu or visit www.michiganceal.org