Internal Medicine residents at Osceola Regional Medical Center are playing their part in encouraging Central Florida residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Three residents are featured in Orange County’s “I Got My Shot” public safety campaign geared at reducing vaccine hesitancy and building community immunity. The campaign enlists trusted voices from Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and the UCF College of Medicine to debunk COVID-19 myths and encourage residents from diverse communities to get vaccinated.
The campaign was commissioned by Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings, who reached out to the medical school for physicians who are fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Vietnamese and could speak to residents from those communities in their native language.
“As a doctor, I have seen the severe effects of the COVID infection on people from different ethnicities and races and different ages,” says Tin Pham, a first-year internal medicine resident who delivered his message in English and Vietnamese, his native language. “So I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to use my voice as someone with medical knowledge, to be reassuring and help build confidence in the vaccine.”
Karen Tien, a second-year internal medicine resident originally from Taiwan, says its important for communities to hear from an expert with whom they can relate.
“There is still a lot of misconception and fake news, so I think it was important for people who speak Mandarin to hear from someone in their native language to get the vaccine so that we can end the pandemic,” she says.
Mahmoud Ibrahim, chief resident at Osceola Regional Medical Center, was on-site at the hospital helping coordinate the county’s filming. When county officials learned he is fluent in Arabic, they asked him to join the effort. Ibrahim, who was born in Giza, Egypt, recorded his messages in English and Arabic.
“Part of health literacy is understanding that people will feel comfortable hearing and learning information in different environments and from different persons,” Ibrahim says. “I think it really makes a difference hearing a message in a language you are more comfortable with and from someone who shares the same ethnicity and cultural experience. So this campaign is important to celebrate that diversity and get the message across to all international backgrounds.”
The internal medicine residency program is part of the College of Medicine-HCA Healthcare Graduate Medical Education consortium. Some 75 residents are enrolled in the three-year program, training at both Osceola Regional and the Orlando VA Medical Center. Residents come from diverse nations, including Argentina, Taiwan, Vietnam, Colombia, Ethiopia and the United States.
Mayor Demings thanked the residents for their service to Central Florida’s diverse community.
“With the help of UCF’s College of Medicine, we are able to further showcase diverse trusted voices and reach those who are hesitant about getting the vaccine,” Demings says. “A special thank you to Dr. Pham, Dr. Tien and Dr. Ibrahim for their participation in this public safety campaign as we strive towards our goal of reaching herd immunity.”
Abdo Asmar, who leads the residency program, says the vaccine campaign aligns with the program’s commitment to diversity and population health.
“One of the things we strive to do is not only to train residents, but to have good citizens who can impact the community beyond our hospital walls,” he says. “It is not by chance that we have such a diverse group of physicians in our residency program. This is intentional. The Orlando community is diverse, so we make it a part of our mission to recruit a diverse group of physicians to meet the needs of our community.”