Building Trust

Building trust in COVID-19 vaccination and other public health interventions is fundamental to the work of public health and efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic. We can build trust by combating misinformation, supporting trusted messengers and networks, improving our trustworthiness, and deepening relationships that engender trust over time. Building trust between public health and communities facilitates acceptance of public health interventions and can cultivate an equitable COVID-19 response now and conditions for well-being in the future.


    • Trust is foundational to public health. Trust is foundational to the work of public health. It can help us expand vaccination and implement community mitigation strategies and other strategies to end the COVID-19 pandemic and advance a robust and sustainable public health system for the future.
    • We must build back trust. Public trust and trust in institutions have declined in recent years. This is a backdrop to pervasive distrust in government, public health, and medicine that threaten the success of our efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic and advance equity.
    • An equitable COVID-19 response requires trust building. To end the COVID-19 pandemic we must build trust in vaccination, contact tracing, testing, and other measures. Building trust helps facilitate acceptance of public health measures and mandates, overcome barriers to trust, and reinforce good health behaviors.
    • Together we can overcome barriers to trust. Building trust requires humility, empathy, and accountability; it requires us to meet communities where they are, show up as authentic partners, listen, co-lead, work with trusted messengers, and communicate to combat misinformation.

Equity & Systems

Many communities of color have suffered innumerable harms under our health care and public health systems–going back generations–and have good reasons for distrusting government, public health, research, and medicine. We can build trust by becoming more deserving of it, and fostering authentic, deep, respectful relationships with community partners for health equity.

Featured Resources

This article examines vaccine hesitancy, with a focus on COVID-19 vaccines. It discusses concerns and conspiracy theories driving COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, the need for compassion in vaccine education, levels of trust in individuals and institutions that discover, develop, and deliver vaccines, and more.

This webinar features a panel of public health leaders who address how to build confidence and trust in COVID-19 vaccines and discuss effective communication strategies, including language that works to improve vaccine acceptance.

This policy brief focuses on how historic maltreatment of communities of color and tribal nations, along with current day structural racism, have created distrust of government and healthcare in many communities of color and tribal communities. It provides six key recommendations on policy actions to help build trust in and access to COVID-19 vaccines.

This article highlights the importance of and need for reliable, high-quality COVID-19 surveillance data. It provides a detailed chart of suggestions on how to improve the validity and interpretation of COVID-19 data by laying out commons issues, examples of misleading statements, and advices on how to better collect, display, and convey data.

This report provides tools and information on community engagement in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. It defines community engagement, provides a blueprint for community assessment, guides through potential implementation strategies, and offers additional resources.

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Public Health Authority

The authority to act to protect and promote the public's health has emerged over the course of our Nation’s history, and has enabled many of modern public health’s greatest achievements. Today, public health agencies use their authority to promote health, prevent the spread of infectious disease, protect against environmental hazards, advance equity and assure local public health infrastructure and health services. During declared emergencies, state and federal authorities have broader powers to act to assist governments, suspend or modify legal requirements, pass and enforce law and expend funds for the health, safety and welfare of society. Recently, some states have moved to limit public health powers. Such efforts pose a mounting challenge for public health’s response to COVID-19 and future threats.