County Mayor launches COVID-19 Community Council to help debunk vaccine skepticism

MEMPHIS, TENN. — The county is launching a new effort in the fight against the pandemic. It’s called the COVID-19 Community Council.

Mayor Lee Harris said there is still some hesitation about the vaccine in minorities communities and using peer to peer influence will help ease those concerns.

“We put in extra effort to make sure people know the importance of the vaccine and one of the best ways based on the studies, you get folks who are influencers in those peer to talk about their experiences.

Harris said this would be a volunteer effort with upwards of 40 people who would get special briefings from the county twice a month.

He said they council will receive information about the vaccine and other ways to stay safe during the pandemic and they will in turn distribute this information to their networks.

Harris said they’ll track the success of the council by tracking the city’s vaccine take up rate.

Memphis pharmacist Dr. Ted Lyons supports the effort. He said the concept for the council mirrors what some doctors call the “health believe model” which combines information with trust.

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“It’s through education but also vicariously so when you see someone that you know, someone respect, someone you trust doing something then you gain the confidence yourself to do it as well,” said Lyons who owns ShotRX Health Clinic.

Mayor Harris said the council will be active for three months.

Applications are available right now and he says the goal is start meeting in May.

COVID-19 Community Council Eligibility:

All applications will be reviewed to ensure diverse representation. Applications will close on April 15 and selected members will be notified on or before April 26. Please do not call about your application status.

Membership Requirements:

• Must reside in Shelby County

• Must be 16 years or older

• Must attend 2 meetings per month (virtual until further notice)

• Must participate in the monthly goal