CUNY SPH is home to CONVINCE USAsm, coordinating research and communication strategy development for United States audiences. Working at the national, state and local level, across the public, private and NGO sectors, CONVINCE USA includes both independent and collaborative programs to create support for COVID-19 immunization and the science behind it.

Executive Director

Scott Ratzan, MD, MPA
Distinguished Lecturer, CUNY SPH

Senior Program Manager

Lauren Rauh, MPH

Vaccine Literacy Campaign Program Manager

Karen Ortiz

Program Assistants

Madison Bohlman
Taylor Drost
Kamrun Nahar
Camilo Parro
Yasmin Salazar
Cat Sansarricq

Faculty Fellow

Chris Palmedo, PhD
Clinical Professor, CUNY SPH

Senior Associates

Lyndon Haviland, MPH, DrPH
Chairman of the Board of Directors, CUNY SPH Foundation

Jonathan Fielding
Distinguished Professor-in-Residence, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Margaret Hamburg
Board Chair, American Association for the Advancement of Science

David Nabarro
WHO Director’s Special Envoy on COVID-19

Lawrence Gostin
Director, World Health Organization Collaborating Center on National & Global Health Law

Bill Novelli
Distinguished Professor, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business

Helene Gayle
President & Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Community Trust

NY Vaccine Literacy Campaign

See press release here.

The New York Vaccine Literacy Campaign was launched in May 2021 and was developed by CONVINCE USA and a team of faculty and staff at CUNY SPH. This 18-month vaccine education and engagement project is made possible with support from the New York Community Trust, the Altman Foundation, and New York State Health Foundation. The Campaign aims to lighten the load of community and direct service organizations by increasing community-level access to vaccine education and information through tailored webinars, education modules, training, and other capacity-building resources. Data tracking and communication resource navigation are provided via a dashboard adapted to respond to the needs identified by community partners.
The Campaign is engaged in NYC’s five boroughs, Long Island, and Westchester and Rockland counties.

COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Community Bulletin

The NY Vaccine Literacy Campaign collaborates with New York Academy of Medicine’s COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Action Collaborative to write and distribute the monthly COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Community Bulletin.

Each monthly newsletter offers timely COVID-19 vaccine news, events, case studies, funding opportunities, research, and data to support community- and faith-based organizations.

Sign up to receive this monthly bulletin here.

NY Vaccine Literacy Campaign inquiries and requests can be directed to

Project STRIVE – Scale for Trust and Intention to Vaccinate

Building upon findings from the Commonwealth Project (see Past Projects below), the CONVINCE USA team has embarked on the development of a diagnostic tool to measure degrees of trust in adult vaccination. Project STRIVE (Scale for Trust and Intention to Vaccinate) has developed a Vaccine Trust Gauge with the initial iteration informed by guidance from an expert advisory group. A national survey followed by extensive qualitative research has begun to validate and support the salience and value of this novel approach

This research aims to build a tool to assess individual-level trust in vaccination and build a deep understanding of the behaviors and beliefs of individuals along the spectrum to best address, and perhaps prevent, their concerns. This work has been made possible with unrestricted support from Merck to the CUNY Research Foundation.  

Building Trust in Health Services and Vaccinations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Levels of trust in health care and government are declining at unprecedented rates. Lack of trust in immunization specifically now threatens community protection across the globe. Along with COVID-19, there is a strong possibility that communities will find themselves fighting multiple vaccine-preventable diseases at once. While research provides some insights into this phenomenon, evidence-based guidance for building trust for COVID-19 vaccination is still largely absent.
The Commonwealth Fund supported CONVINCE USA to investigate values, beliefs and concerns to build trust in health services during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Working with partners including the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the project informed the development of effective communication and engagement recommendations.
The research paid particular attention to communities of color, which represented a higher proportion of front-line medical professionals and essential workers and suffered disproportionally higher rates of COVID-related morbidity and mortality.

The initiative was conducted in three phases, each with guidance from an expert advisory board:

  1. Scoping review of the determinants of trust in institutions and vaccination
  2. In-depth virtual interviews with unvaccinated individuals
  3. Virtual conference to review research findings and build consensus for communication strategies

Partnership with Phreesia to assess patient vaccine sentiments and design interventions to ensure high Covid-19 vaccine uptake.

See press release here.

Phreesia, a patient intake platform with nationwide clientele in some of the largest health systems, partnered with the CONVINCE USA team to create a patient survey and data-driven education tools to better understand and address patients’ Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy. More than 300,000 hesitancy survey responses were collected across Phreesia’s network, providing valuable insights to target interventions to engage and inform more hesitant groups and shed light on the relationship between access and hesitancy. Phreesia and CUNY SPH collaborated in the development of the survey tools, revisions to the instrument, and created tailored interventions to respond to the data analysis. Through iterations of data collection, analysis, and intervention implementation and assessment, this partnership tested messages designed to address specific questions, concerns, and motivations presented by individuals hesitant about readily accepting Covid-19 vaccines.

Partnership with RubiconMD to produce Covid-19 Vaccine Resource

See press release here.

In mid-January 2021, RubiconMD polled its provider clients to better understand the challenges they face when speaking with patients about the Covid-19 vaccines and assess how best to meet their needs. The specific information sources and communication strategies identified through the survey were brought to the CONVINCE USA team to aid in the curation of a resource page. A website was launched to help PCP’s navigate patient interactions and keep up to date with the evolving vaccine information landscape. The database was updated by CONVINCE USA through regular assessment of PCP feedback as well as monitoring of the information for accuracy and timeliness.

Additionally the CONVINCE USA team has created some materials for the resource page, which include a Know Your Vaccines factsheet, and a quick reference on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Employer Vaccine Communication Resources

After thorough background research of workplace vaccine education and communication strategies, CONVINCE USA developed a series of tools for employers to plan and implement a campaign aimed at ensuring high uptake of Covid-19 vaccines among their employees. This included (1) an employee survey for employers to assess levels of willingness to vaccinate among their workforce, as well as better understand the communications and information their employees wish to see from company leadership; (2) a checklist to plan, design, and implement a company-wide communications plan tailored to employee questions and concerns; (3) an evidence-based set of steps and strategies to build vaccine confidence among employees and facilitate access to vaccines. These steps included strategies both with or without the presence of onsite vaccination clinics. These materials were made available to employers through Business Partners to CONVINCE’s resource website.