Applying Folklore to Expand COVID Vaccine Access, Equity, and Confidence


Jennifer Spitulnik (Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services)

Folklorists, as Andrea Kitta has repeatedly advocated, can and should be part of public health work. Understanding how rumors and legends circulate and how to discern the concerns being articulated in these traditional narrative forms has been instrumental to my role as a public health educator tasked with improving COVID vaccine access, equity, confidence, and uptake in mid-Missouri. But working at a local public health agency in the midst of a pandemic is very different from other kinds of folkloristics. Here, I will explore the tensions between national research and local events, the need to educate and a folklorist’s disinclination to worry about factuality, and working within multiple heterogeneous communities to create materials that broadcast to all those audiences at once.

Part of 14-06 Crisis Folklore: Vernacular Responses to COVID-19 and Public Health, Monday, October 18, 2:15 pm–3:45 pm