Michael Vega, MPH, CPH

Saint Louis University
Global Health, Biosecurity & Disaster Preparedness

I am a multilingual Public Health professional with a Master’s degree in Public Health from Saint Louis University, where I specialized in Global Health, Biosecurity & Disaster Preparedness. One of my motivations for entering the field of public health comes from a deep-rooted interest in combating infectious diseases, particularly emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases. I have realized the profound impact such diseases can have, causing significant morbidity, mortality, disrupting communities, and adversely affecting economies. I am particularly interested in the well-being of refugees, immigrants, and global communities, fueled by an understanding of the health disparities and social determinants affecting these groups. I am also keen on creating culturally appropriate health promotion messages, a perspective likely influenced by my background in a community of immigrants and non-English speakers. Through the Health Education Fellowship program offered by the NCEZID, I aim to develop skills in community engagement, participatory research, emergency risk communication, and cultural competence assessments. These objectives are in line with my long-term career goals of contributing to public health and population health initiatives on a global scale.

The Health Education Fellow will train with experts from across the NCEZID to create and pilot test a guide and tools that CDC and partners can use to develop, rapidly test, and revise risk communication messages about a wide array of infectious disease threats. This guide will enable CDC and partners to test and revise messages to be culturally sensitive and responsive to the questions and concerns of the community. This effort will build on newly developed tools for community listening and documentation that can quickly identify when a community has misconceptions about an infectious disease or is having difficulty understanding messages. This project will build on lessons learned and needs identified during previous outbreak responses. The fellow will have the opportunity to learn best practices in emergency risk communication, gain experience applying these practices during CDC emergency responses, build the science for what we know about cultural competence assessments, and produce a model for others wanting to do cultural competence assessments.