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Building trust – AMMR’s role in T&T’s fight against vaccine hesitancy

By Matthew Pierre

AMMR Community Outreach Coordinator and Margarita Elliot, CEO, Uwàmìto Consulting


Governed by the ministry and mission of Jesus as reflected in the key principles of Catholic Social Teaching, the CCSJ has participated in various social initiatives aimed at prioritising the dignity of each human person and promoting the common good of all.

One such initiative was our partnership with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) to address the challenge of vaccine hesitancy in Trinidad and Tobago which arose during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2022, PAHO/WHO implemented an innovative project utilising its Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) framework in a two-phased approach.

Phase one ran from November 2022 to March 2023 and involved research, data gathering, and the development of workplans for all stakeholders. These were implemented during the second phase, which ran from July 2023 to November 2023.

The project targeted healthcare workers, migrants, and at-risk members of the general population to understand the impact of vaccine hesitancy, increase demand for health services including vaccines, promote health and well-being among communities and support healthcare workers especially to understand their roles during a public health emergency.

The Archdiocese Ministry for Migrants and Refugees (AMMR), an arm of the CCSJ, participated in both phases of the RCCE project. Utilising our existing network and expertise in supporting migrants, AMMR significantly contributed to the success of the RCCE project.

Through our community-focused approach a series of four health fairs, held in San Juan as a pilot, provided a platform for direct engagement with over 1200 individuals, including members of the migrant community and vulnerable populations. Community walkabouts with other partners like the San Juan Laventille Regional Corporation, also featured.

The crucial role of healthcare professionals in building trust and understanding around vaccines was recognised. The RCCE project provided health professionals with the knowledge and skills to address vaccine hesitancy and increase health workers understanding of their roles during a public health emergency. The results of the RCCE project were encouraging:

  • 40 RCCE trained trainers from the RCCE project stakeholder base
  • 300 nurses, midwives, and student professionals participated in RCCE training sessions covering crucial topics such as vaccine safety, the impact of Covid-19 on healthcare workers, and the role of healthcare workers during a public health emergency
  • Over 750 people received health services, including vaccinations
  • Close to 400 people from the San Juan community completed conversations with community engagement teams who utilised a data collection tool to understand the impact of vaccine hesitancy and the impact of Covid-19 on their perception of risk.

AMMR’s commitment to the entire project provided key inserts for cross-fertilisation which included a healing session with the nursing leadership, undertaking joint training, and implementing community outreach and engagement.

AMMR’s dedicated team, trained in RCCE principles, facilitated open dialogue and empowered individuals to make informed decisions about their health. AMMR’s contributions to the project were multifaceted:

  • Community outreach: AMMR played a vital role in community outreach, organising four health fairs and two community engagement walkabouts. These events provided an opportunity to engage with members of the community, provide them with accurate information about vaccines, and address their concerns.
  • PMMR’s involvement: The support of members of the Parish Ministry for Migrants and Refugees from other parishes was instrumental in the success of the RCCE project. Our PMMR volunteers were trained in RCCE principles and then deployed to assist with community outreach activities, data collection, and providing information to attendees.
  • Partnership building: AMMR leveraged its existing network of partners to mobilise resources and support for the RCCE project. This collaborative approach was essential for the project’s success.

The success of the AMMR-led community engagement efforts is evident in the data. Over 750 individuals received direct health services. A significant portion (61.6 per cent) resided within San Juan. Notably, 20 per cent of participants were from migrant backgrounds, demonstrating the project’s effectiveness in reaching marginalised communities.

Furthermore, AMMR’s dedication transcended the scope of the initial project. Our commitment to community development led to the updating of the migrant community database with migrants from the San Juan community and invaluable tools for future outreach efforts.

The AMMR’s story is one of collaborative spirit, unwavering commitment to serving those in need, and a deep understanding of the power of community engagement.

Our contribution to the RCCE project has not only fostered greater vaccine awareness but also paved the way for a more informed and empowered citizenry, prepared to face future public health challenges.

By bridging the gap between information and action, AMMR continues to be a driving force for positive change, reminding us that even in the face of adversity, compassion and collaboration can pave the path to a healthier and more equitable future.


The CCSJ asks for your support.

Please donate:

Catholic Commission for Social Justice

Account #: 290 458 025 501

Bank: Republic Bank Ltd.

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Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash