People have recognized the power of storytelling for thousands of years. The Bible relies on parables like the prodigal son because stories successfully convey the underlying message in a memorable way that’s easy to pass along to future generations.
But when public health leaders and medical professionals need to communicate crucial, potentially life-saving health information, they can fail to harness the strength of storytelling.
That’s why we, a filmmaking professor, a health communications scholar and a public health professor specializing in community outreach, wanted to see if we could help once COVID-19 vaccines became widely available. We stepped up after seeing that the vaccination rates of Latino and Black residents of Los Angeles were roughly 20 percentage points lower than for white Angelenos. By May 1, 2021, 60% of white Angelenos had received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 42% for Latinos and 36% for Black residents.