Getting all people vaccinated - that’s the mission of this Joliet resident

RJ Barry-Ethridge is a COVID Ambassador for the state of Illinois

RJ Barry-Ethridge, property manager at Senior Suites of Joliet, is also a volunteer COVID Ambassador for the state of Illinois.

Yes, this is an official program.

“I got a certificate and everything,” Barry-Ethridge said.

As an essential worker, Barry-Ethridge said hse worked full-time, in-person all through the pandemic. She is also working hard to get as many people vaccinated as she can.

COVID ambassadors intentionally assist with COVID-19 outreach and prevention in an ongoing way, the Illinois Department of Public Health website said.

Ambassadors have the opportunity to express “concerns and fears,” contribute to solutions, enhance their communication and leaderships skills, and “provide input into the development of messaging and outreach materials,” the website said.

The time commitment is one to two hours a month, the website said. Barry-Ethridge said she frequently receives updated information on COVID-19 via email and a monthly phone call.

“They give you a lot of information about what’s going on and what some of the myths are,” Barry-Ethridge said. “So when you’re talking to people to convince them, you can give them all the correct information. You have that at your hands.”

Barry-Ethridge said that’s the reason why she became an ambassador. She said, “the more information I had, the better I’d be at spreading the word.”

“I’m still trying to get people vaccinated when I talk to people,” Barry-Ethridge said. “And now I’m moving onto boosters. I definitely feel everyone should get vaccinated.”

When people hesitate, Barry-Ethridge tries to learn their objections and overturn them with accurate information, she said.

“Because I don’t want anyone to die from COVID-19,” she said,

Barry-Ethridge doesn’t know anyone personally who has died from the virus, she said.

For more information or to fill out an ambassador interest form, visit dph.illinois.gov/ambassador or contact Juana Ballesteros, Manager for Community Public Health Outreach at Juana.Ballesteros@illinois.gov.