Communities for Immunity was a funding program administered by the Association of Science and Technology Centers in partnership with the American Alliance of Museums and the Network of the National Library of Medicine, with the support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Additional organizations involved in the effort included the American Library Association, Association of African American Museums, the Association of Children’s Museums, the Association for Rural and Small Libraries, the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums, and the Urban Libraries Council.

Communities for Immunity built on a number of earlier and ongoing efforts to activate various communities to engage in vaccine confidence work, including Vaccines & US—led by the Smithsonian and in collaboration with a range of partner organizations and individuals, Vaccinate with Confidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, We Can Do This from the Department of Health and Human Services, and It’s Up to You campaign led by the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative, and the REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) project conducted by OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Battelle.

Communities for Immunity awarded funding to museums, libraries, science centers, zoos, aquariums, gardens, and other cultural institutions located in the United States, including territories and tribal lands. 

The initiative was designed to reach out to people who are hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine and had not yet received their first dose. The World Health Organization (WHO) Working Group on Vaccine Hesitancy defines vaccine hesitancy as “delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccine services. Vaccine hesitancy is complex and context specific, varying across time, place and vaccines. It is influenced by factors such as complacency, convenience and confidence.” The projects focused on engaging those audiences uncertain about, or delaying, vaccination rather than those firmly opposed to it.

The projects involved a wide range of activities, including printing and distributing pamphlets about COVID-19 vaccination, facilitating a community discussion about vaccines, opening or maintaining a vaccination site, and more.

The Role of Museums and Libraries

Museums, libraries, science centers, and other cultural organizations are uniquely suited to educate local communities across the United States about COVID-19 vaccines. They have built deep ties within their communities over decades of sustained engagement and have rightly earned strong reputations as trusted sources of information. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, these institutions have continued to play a vital role in their communities by providing food, childcare, and other essential services, as well as continuing to engage diverse audiences with educational opportunities virtually.

Museums and libraries are already sharing valuable information about COVID-19 vaccination with their communities by:

  • helping to translate science in ways that are accessible to the public
  • developing programs and exhibits explaining why vaccines are so important to fighting the spread of the COVID-19 virus and other diseases
  • helping to address misinformation around the virus and the vaccines
  • serving as vaccination sites
  • offering their buildings to support community public health efforts

With deep knowledge of the specific needs of their communities, museums and libraries are critical grassroots partners in building vaccine confidence and defeating COVID-19. With national support, these individual efforts can be expanded and replicated to effectively engage people across the country, creating a robust network to halt the pandemic.

Did you know...

  • The American public considers museums the most trustworthy source of information in America, rated higher than local papers, nonprofit researchers, the U.S. government, and academic researchers. Read more museum facts from the American Alliance of Museums.
  • Libraries are highly trusted institutions with more than three in four U.S. adults saying that public libraries help them find information that is trustworthy and reliable. Read more library facts from the American Library Association.

Collaborating Organizations

Founded in 1973, the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) is a network of nearly 700 science and technology centers and museums, and allied organizations, engaging more than 110 million people annually across North America and in almost 50 countries. With its members and partners, ASTC works towards a vision of increased understanding of—and engagement with—science and technology among all people.

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. IMLS's vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. Follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works 24/7 protecting America’s health, safety and security. Whether disease start at home or abroad, are curable or preventable, chronic or acute, or from human activity or deliberate attack, CDC responds to America’s most pressing health threats. CDC is headquartered in Atlanta and has experts located throughout the United States and the world. For more information about CDC, visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov).

Network of the National Library of Medicine

The mission of the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) is to advance the progress of medicine and improve the public's health by providing U.S. researchers, health professionals, public health workforce, educators, and the public with equal access to biomedical and health information resources and data. NNLM’s main goals are to work through libraries and other members to support a highly trained workforce for biomedical and health information resources and data, improve health literacy, and advance health equity through information. NNLM engages meaningfully with current and future audiences to increase information access, with priority for Underrepresented Populations. NNLM members are the "field force” or trusted ambassadors for NLM products and services, providing information services, engagement, and instruction, or funding for projects to do the same, to the public, researchers, health professionals, and public health workforce.

American Library Association
The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, ALA has been the trusted voice of libraries, communicating the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all.

Association of African American Museums

The Association of African American Museums (AAAM) is a nonprofit member organization established to support African and African American focused museums nationally and internationally, as well as the professionals who protect, preserve and interpret African and African American art, history and culture. Established as a representative and principal voice of the African American museum movement, the Association seeks to strengthen institutions and individuals committed to the preservation of African-derived cultures.

Association of Children's Museums

The Association of Children's Museums (ACM) champions children's museums worldwide. With more than 460 members in 50 states and 19 countries, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children's museums through convening, sharing, and dissemination.

The Association for Rural & Small Libraries

The Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) recognizes the uniqueness of small and rural libraries and is committed to providing an environment that encourages excellence within this community of practice, supporting their goals of service and speaking on behalf of this important constituency. Since 1 in 3 public libraries in the U.S. serve a population of fewer than 2,500 people, there is a great opportunity to support this set of library professionals that are often overlooked. We believe in the value of rural and small libraries and strive to create resources and services that address national, state, and local priorities for libraries situated in rural communities. Our mission: ARSL builds strong communities through professional development and elevating the impact of rural and small libraries.

Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, & Museums

The Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM) is an international association dedicated to preserving and advancing the language, history, culture, and lifeways of Indigenous peoples. Founded in 2010, ATALM maintains a network of support for Indigenous cultural programs, provides professional development training, enables collaboration among tribal and non-tribal cultural institutions, and works to sustain the cultural sovereignty of Native Nations.

Urban Libraries Council

The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) is an innovation and action tank of North America’s public library systems. ULC drives cutting-edge research and strategic partnerships to elevate the power of libraries as essential, transformative institutions for the 21st century. More than 150 urban member libraries in the U.S. and Canada rely on ULC to identify significant challenges facing today’s communities and provide new tools and techniques to help libraries achieve stronger outcomes in education, digital equity, workforce and economic development, and race and social equity.