Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the vaccine: How to get more people vaccinated through volunteer efforts

Filed Under: Costs, Patients, Providers

Man in mask with crossed fingers

“America is awash in vaccines. After a winter and spring where it was very, very difficult to get an appointment, we now have plenty of doses to go around. Kids over 5 can get shots, and the FDA even greenlit boosters for older teenagers last week,” Tim Requarth writes over at Slate, in a piece that echoes our work and features our partner S. Mitra Kalita at Epicenter-NYC. “Immunizations may be critical to subdue the omicron variant, as many experts believe they will still protect against severe disease and that a booster will likely reduce the chances you’ll play a role in transmitting the virus to others. And yet, about 40 million adults remain unvaccinated -— which may turbocharge a deadly surge that could push America north of a million cumulative deaths by this spring.The unvaccinated are reachable—at least a very good chunk of them. According to an October census report, 53 percent of the unvaccinated were still open to the shot. Of those willing to be vaccinated, according to a report by the COVID States Project, most had concerns about vaccine safety or side effects. But nearly 40 percent also cited logistical issues such as travel to a vaccine site, or being unable to take time off work. In other words: They just haven’t been able to get around to it. ‘We hear about these people who don’t want the vaccine because they’re going to track us with a microchip,’ said Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton, a professor of biomedical and health informatics at the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Medicine and director of the university’s Health Equity Institute. But there’s this whole other group of people, she said, ‘who aren’t necessarily “no-to-vaccinate” they are “slow-to-vaccinate.” Traditional modes of public health communication aren’t going to reach them.” So how do you reach them? ‘We’ve got to hit the sidewalks.’ Berkley-Patton’s own sidewalks crisscross Kansas City’s East Side, which consists of predominantly Black neighborhoods. Berkley-Patton grew up in one of those neighborhoods and for the past 15 years has leveraged her professional expertise and deep community connections to address health inequities in conditions ranging from HIV to diabetes. In the past two years, Berkley-Patton has secured $10 million in federal grants to battle COVID-19 specifically, with her latest efforts focused on increasing access to vaccines in some of Kansas City’s most socially vulnerable ZIP codes.” Tim Requarth, “How to get more people vaccinated through volunteer efforts,” Slate.com.