College pays student ‘vaccine ambassadors’ to promote COVID shot

Ambassadors are tasked with talking to their classmates "about barriers to receiving the vaccine" while also sharing "personal reasons for confidence in the vaccine."

Central Lakes College is paying student "vaccine ambassadors" $15 per hour.

Central Lakes College in Brainerd is hiring students to serve as “Vaccine Ambassadors” in order to increase the number of enrollees who have received the COVID shot.

A flyer published by the school’s Student Life office announced there are several openings for the position. Job duties include “modeling healthy behaviors, sharing accurate and relevant information [about the vaccine], and empowering their peers to make informed decisions.”

Ambassadors are also tasked with talking to their classmates “about barriers to receiving the vaccine” while also sharing “personal reasons for confidence in the vaccine.”

Students who are hired for the $15/hour position will also provide ongoing outreach to CLC students through “personal interactions and social media” and provide future “pre-vaccination education.”

Erich Heppner is the director of Central Lakes’ Student Life office. He’s helped organize various events and provided resources to students throughout the past school year to entice them to get the vaccine.

Heppner has given away Nike sweatshirts and overseen video game drawings for students who presented proof of vaccination.

Republican candidate for governor Dr. Neil Shah criticized the school’s vaccine push in a recent Facebook post.

“Central Lakes College is now hiring a propaganda arm to give incentives for vaccines,” Shah stated. “Publicly funded schools should not be pushing political objectives. This is not about public health, it’s about political control.”

“When I’m Governor,” Shah continued, “I will hold the liberal colleges and universities accountable and allow you to make medical choices for yourself!”

A spokesperson for the college told Alpha News that the vaccine ambassador program is a student-led initiative.

“Student leaders brought the idea forward and are guiding the process. CLC, along with the colleges and universities of Minnesota State, holds as paramount the health, safety and welfare of every member of its community. While not required at our college, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is one of the best ways for students to protect themselves and everyone around them,” the spokesperson said.

Central Lakes College was founded in 1995 after the merging of Brainerd Community College and Brainerd Staples Technical Colleges. It serves on average 5,500 students per year. The college includes on its website multiple links to nearby pharmacies and on-campus resources where students can receive the shot.