How to Help Custodial Staff Get Vaccinated

As more states open up their COVID-19 vaccine supply to teachers and school staff, it can be a challenge to ensure that everyone on your team understands why it’s important to get vaccinated and how to access a vaccine. We’ve compiled resources to help you share COVID-related public health information with your staff.


This video from the Washington State Department of Health explains the vaccine in a simple yet powerful way, and it is available in multiple languages via Washington State Coronavirus Response:


The CDC has prepared a COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit for School Settings and Childcare Programs with key messages, posters, infographics, Spanish resources and ideas for helping to educate school staff. The “Getting Back to Normal” poster, which emphasizes that it’s going to take “All of Our Tools,” could be posted on janitorial closets.


The CDC toolkit offers ideas for using social media to encourage vaccination along with materials designed to be shared in person, such as stickers that staff can use to promote being vaccinated. Many studies have shown that the most powerful way to encourage vaccination is through discussions with friends, colleagues and people we trust.


At the University of Washington, the facilities department has been working to help educate staff about the COVID-19 vaccine ever since a UW study showed that university departments with a higher percentage of people of color had as high as a 30-percent rate of declining vaccinations. This raised the concern of university leaders, including Gene Woodard, director of the building services department.


“Our department is very diverse,” said Woodard. “So we set out to provide resources that helped educate our team with the facts about vaccination.”


The UW facilities department enlisted the help of some familiar faces and the Washington Department of Health to make its own COVID-19 vaccine information campaign to be shared in training centers and within the department. The goal was to help staff learn from people they trust, so the department turned to a family member of one of the custodians and Dr. Debra Milek, a physician who has worked with the department on ergonomic issues.


 Some of the questions Milek heard from custodians include:


  • I’ve never gotten a vaccine before, why should I get it now?
  • Should I wait until we know more about the vaccines?
  • Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccines?
  • Are there side effects from getting the vaccines?
  • Is there anything people can take after the vaccine to lessen the side effects?
  • Do the vaccines work on the new variants?
  • After I get the vaccine, do I still need to wear a mask and avoid crowds?


These questions could help inform an information campaign at your school or university. Consider finding trusted people on your team or partners who have worked with your team to lead a discussion, make a video or host an online session or webinar to talk about the safety and benefits of vaccination, including dispelling myths, answering questions and helping staff navigate the system to find vaccination appointments.


Featured photo: Teachers and staff at Des Moines Public Schools get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Credit: Phil Roeder (cc 2.0)