Voices on the Vaccine: Cleveland Documenters Interviewed Community Members About Vaccines

Throughout March and early April, more than 20 Cleveland Documenters conducted 42 interviews to better understand how Clevelanders were approaching the coronavirus vaccines. The result of that work, Voices on the Vaccine, appeared last week as a three-story series in The Cleveland Observer.

The project was the first of its kind for Cleveland Documenters, which trains and pays people to document local government meetings. For the project, Documenters asked friends, family and other community members about their hopes and hesitations regarding the vaccines. Documenters also learned about what influences Clevelanders as they make vaccination decisions.

Cleveland Documenters hoped Voices on the Vaccine would feature voices that aren’t typically heard in media. Here are a few graphics showcasing the range of people interviewed.

A diverse group of interviewees brought a diversity of perspectives. Some residents were eager to get a vaccine.

Heather Russell, a 52-year-old Jefferson neighborhood resident and head of the Cleveland State University music school, had this to say to Documenter Leslie Bednar:

Other Clevelanders weren’t so sure.

Manuel Santiago, a 35-year-old Ohio City resident, told Documenter Kevin Naughton that people can fight viruses naturally. But, he worries he won’t be allowed to work, travel or dine out without being vaccinated.

Santiago also said that he agrees with how Ohio prioritized vaccine access. He said people with weakened immune systems, like his diabetic mother, should be able to get vaccinated first if they wish.

Beyond learning about Clevelanders’ vaccine intentions, Documenters learned about what influenced people. Science, history, and lived experience were three common factors. Rev. Leah Lewis told Documenter Kathryn Johnson that she based her decision on science.

Wondering what other Clevelanders had to say? Check out the Voices on the Vaccine stories in The Cleveland Observer:

Why Some Clevelanders are Still on the Fence or Not Getting Vaccinated


Clevelanders Share About Why They Got the Shot


Science, History and Lived Experiences Influences Choices of Clevelanders

Documenters who contributed to Voices on the Vaccine include Dorothy Ajamu, Leslie Bednar, Courtney Green, Sheila Ferguson, Gennifer Harding-Gosnell, Kathryn Johnson, Giorgiana Lascu, Sharon Lewis, Daniel McCarthy, Dan McLaughlin, McKenzie Merriman, Alicia Moreland, Kevin Naughton, Rosie Palfy, Angela Pohlman, Andy Schumann, Tina Scott, Janenell Smith, Chau Tang, and Candice Wilder.

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