building vaccine confidence | An initiative to strengthen public trust in vaccines | #BuildingVaxConfidence

Tennessee Tech University

To increase vaccine confidence, the nursing school developed two programs – the Education, Support, Training, Awareness, and Resources (ESTAR) and Vaccine Education for Communities to Orchestrate Revitalization (VECTOR), which prepare undergraduate and graduate nursing students and students in health-related disciplines to serve as teachers, mentors, and role models while developing collaborative partnerships with community stakeholders. The project team trained students to boost vaccine confidence, including creating a Lay Community Health Worker Course. Students who completed the course served as peer mentors providing accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines to their families, friends, and communities. In addition, testimonials from the community concerning COVID-19 vaccinations were recorded utilizing AACN-TV. These testimonials were distributed by the local Public Broadcasting System affiliate and local radio stations and disseminated by the Tennessee Center for Rural Innovation to create a social media presence for ESTAR and VECTOR. Additionally, trained teams hosted information booths on campus and at community events to distribute COVID-19 vaccine information.

Curriculum Resources

The ESTAR Sanos team created and utilized a PowerPoint presentation concerning COVID-19 misinformation. This presentation confronted the myths regarding COVID-19 and explained the facts regarding the subject along with sources of evidence-based information. 

The ESTAR Sanos team, in collaboration with faculty at the Tennessee Tech University Whitson-Hester School of Nursing, developed a one-credit-hour Community Health Worker Course launching in Fall 2022. This course is free for all who enroll. Course topics include:

  • Foundations of public health
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Combating misinformation
  • Community health worker roles

Learning Opportunities

Nursing, pre-med, and engineering students comprise the ESTAR Sanos team. Three MSN-FNP graduate students are part of the leadership team. The graduate students wrote and obtained IRB approval for the Vaccine Confidence Survey, developed informational flyers, planned and attended events, and learned about misinformation/disinformation and motivational interviewing. Two graduate students created content for the CHW course and serve as instructors for those modules. Eleven undergraduate students planned and attended events, recorded public service messages in Spanish and English for TV and radio, and learned about misinformation/disinformation and motivational interviewing.

Media and Outreach Strategies

  • ACTIVA radio aired three public service messages created by ESTAR Sanos team members fluent in Spanish.
  • ESTAR Sanos team members recorded three video interstitials played between WCTE PBS shows.
  • The team created and distributed educational flyers on misinformation/disinformation, the hidden costs of COVID-19, and general information on the safety and efficacy of vaccination.

Social Media and Digital Strategies

Download Social Media Strategies Handout


Undergraduate and graduate students led Tennessee Tech University’s team and events, stimulating empowerment and growth among all team members. Graduate students assisted in IRB completion, and all students completed Human Subjects Training, leading to a broader understanding of ethics and research. The diversity of the team was a beneficial factor in the school’s endeavors. Many of the team members are of Hispanic and Latino heritage and backgrounds, which enhanced the school’s ability to reach their target populations.

School at a Glance

map of Tennessee with a star marking Cookeville

  • Location: Cookeville, Tennessee
  • School Type: Public University
  • Partners:
    • Burks Elementary School
    • Remote Area Access Medical Clinics
    • Window on the World Cultural Festival
    • Elinor Ross Freedom School
    • Jere Whitson Elementary School
    • Northeast Elementary School
    • The Tennessee Dept of Health and local county health departments
    • Plaza Mariachi
    • WCTE Public Television
    • ACTIVA Hispanic radio
    • Upper Cumberland Development District
    • Doing Unto Others (DUO) Mobile Medical Mission
  • Faculty Contact: Dr. Melissa Geist

photo of project participants