ARTICLE: A Path Forward: COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Community Education and Outreach Initiative
AUTHORS: Risha Irvin, Maya Venkataramani, Panagis Galiatsatos, Jeanne D Hitchcock, Nondie Hemphill, Margaret Dearey, Benjamin F Bigelow, Lisa A Cooper, Nancy Edwards Molello, Katie J O'Conor, Kathleen R Page, Sherita H Golden
JOURNAL: Health Secur. 2023 Feb 15. doi: 10.1089/hs.2022.0096. Online ahead of print.
COVID-19 vaccines offer hope to end the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, we document key lessons learned as we continue to confront COVID-19 variants and work to adapt our vaccine outreach strategies to best serve our community. In the fall of 2020, the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Health Equity at Johns Hopkins Medicine, in collaboration with the Office of Government and Community Affairs for Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, established the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Community Education and Outreach Initiative in partnership with faith and community leaders, local and state government representatives, and community-based organizations. Working with community and government partnerships established before COVID-19 enabled our team to quickly build infrastructure focused on COVID-19 vaccine education and equity. These partnerships resulted in the development and implementation of web-based educational content, major culturally adapted media campaigns (reaching more than 200,000 individuals), community and faith education outreach, youth-focused initiatives, and equity-focused mobile vaccine clinics. The community mobile vaccine clinics vaccinated over 3,000 people in the first 3 months. Of these, 90% identified as persons of color who have been disproportionately impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Academic-government-community partnerships are vital to ensure health equity. Community partnerships, education events, and open dialogues were conducted between the community and medical faculty. Using nontraditional multicultural media venues enabled us to reach many community members and facilitated informed decision making. Additionally, an equitable COVID-19 vaccine policy requires attention to vaccine access as well as access to sound educational information. Our initiative has been thoughtful about using various types of vaccination sites, mobile vaccine units, and flexible hours of operation.
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