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Luther student breaks down COVID vaccine disparities

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ROCHESTER, Minn. - A Luther College student found himself in Rochester this year working with the Diversity Council.

Michael Musa is from Zimbabwe andĀ last year lost two family members to the COVID-19 pandemic. He says where they were in Africa, there were little to no resources or treatment accessible to them.

This led Musa to work with the Diversity Council to help improve health equity for residents right here in the Med City.

Musa was able to work with many groups from the BIPOCĀ  community and learn their needs.

"I got to meet different groups and I got to hear their needs straight from their mouths," said Musa. "Instead of the Diversity Council being a liaison, like - I have this person who can do it, what is it that you want? They gave me direct access to all these groups. I worked with the Somali community. I got to meet all these people to know what exactly it is that they need."

During his time with the Diversity Council, Musa worked on designing data collection systems for organizations and people.

He was working with a multicultural group and found that the acronyms being used for COVID vaccine data collection were long and confusing.

Musa knew this issue needed to be solved and created a database-enforced WebApp.

His goal - along with the Diversity Council's - is to destigmatize vaccine hesitancy and look into the socio-economic disparities that cause it.

Breaking down barriers - so everyone has access to resources and have the knowledge they need.

"Seeing just how many populations are coming with questions - even at this point - questions about the vaccine," said Musa. "Like, is it safe for kids? Is it safe for my family? Where do I even get those - where do I access those resources? At this time, when people think you can get a vaccine anywhere. That's pretty much one of the major things. It was a turning point for me. I can say that I felt like I actually woke up and started seeing that and looking deeper into the actual issue at hand."

Musa said he is getting around 45 people using his site a day!

He is able to do this internship through "Luther's Rochester Semester Program" that gives students immersive learning opportunities for 15-20 hours of on-site work a week.

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