News

Jul
1

Vaccine Participation vs. Hesitancy – Who Do You Trust? 

Filed Under: PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED,Strengthening Pierce County - Posted @ 8:50am

People line up masked and ready at a Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department clinic to receive their first or second  COVID-19 vaccination.

According to Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, as of June 30, 2021, Pierce County’s vaccination rate was 50.5%.

COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available, but the number of people seeking vaccines has decreased. Organizations and agencies around Pierce County are sharing data, resources, and tools to help community members make informed decisions about vaccination. As part of PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED’s COVID-19 vaccine equity funding, many of those organizations and agencies recently gathered to share knowledge, approaches, and support for the many efforts in our community.

“Fear is the biggest thing holding people back from getting the vaccine.”

Marcy Boulet, Community Liaison with Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department attended the session, “As a public-health professional helping lead Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s community engagement response for COVID-19, I was seeking to understand what partners are hearing about COVID-19 in their communities and how the Health Department could help support their outreach efforts”.

TACID, Springbrook Connections, Tacoma Recovery Café, and Key Peninsula Partnership For A Healthy Community also took part in the session. These are some of their key challenges and strategies to increase vaccine participation in their communities.

 

TACOMA AREA COALITION OF INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES (TACID)

TACID uses social media to share important COVID-19 vaccination information, like this visual from Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s outreach toolkit.

“Fear is the biggest thing holding people back from getting the vaccine”, explains Executive Director Nola Renz. “Fear of the unknown, fear of having a reaction, fear of getting the virus and being alone unable to get the care. Most of all, the fear in the conspiracy that this is all made up.

“We consistently provide information on Facebook, so our community knows the most recent information. We make announcements about the vaccine being free of charge (which many did not believe), and the free transportation available to receive a shot.”

“People are complaining about all of the restrictions they have had to endure over the course of the year, but they won’t do the one thing that will stop all of that from happening.”

 

SPRINGBROOK CONNECTIONS

Springbrook Connections uses signs in their community of Springbrook to promote vaccine participation. These signs are often torn down, only to be replaced.

Jessie Black, Executive Director, Springbrook Connections, “People are lacking trust. Trust in the fact that the vaccine was developed quickly. They don’t have access to the education about vaccines, which is something we are working on for in our community. The resistance is real, so now we are working on the education piece.

“We are in need of a voice of support from an individual or organization that resonates as a person of trust.”

“With some of the funds provided from PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED, we went out and got signs to go out on the streets to say, ‘Hey if you’re tired of these limitations, get the vaccine.’ Vaccine hesitancy in our neighborhood is such that these signs get ripped down daily. I walk around the neighborhood putting them back up. I’ve been trying to talk to other organization that are being semi-successful in getting their folks vaccinated, picking their brains to figure out how I can help do that in our community.

“One of the things we are going to do in July is hold our community meeting in the park. We will have a guest speaker from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department address any concerns about the vaccine directly. The meeting will allow community members the opportunity to get the answers they are seeking from an expert. People are complaining about all of the restrictions they have had to endure over the course of the year, but they won’t do the one thing that will stop all of that from happening. Maybe this information will help.”

 

TACOMA RECOVERY CENTER

Tacoma Recovery Center, with the help of trusted community partners, helps to increase vaccine participation in their community

Ann Artman, Founder, Executive Director, Tacoma Recovery Center, “People from a variety of ethnic backgrounds are convinced COVID-19 is not real, the vaccine will cause harm. They believe that it is their right to turn down the vaccine and not be asked if they have received it. To them it’s a HIPAA violation. [EDITOR NOTE: It is not a HIPAA violation to ask for proof of vaccination.]

“We are in need of a voice of support from an individual or organization that resonates as a person of trust. We need positive data that supports the vaccine. We need positive data with community stories that describe what is actually taking place.

“At Tacoma Recovery Center, we try to lead by example. Everyone in our organization has been vaccinated. As our organization represents and supports the BIPOC community, we continue to involve churches and trusted people in the community to share important messages about getting vaccinated.”

“As a community, we are at our best when we honor all of our diverse voices, act upon what we hear form our communities in our response, and work together to implement equity-based solutions, both for COVID-19 and for all of our work to improve community health.”

 

KEY PENINSULA PARTNERSHIP FOR A HEALTHY COMMUNITY

Key Peninsula Partnership For A Healthy Community works diligently to identify issues that affect citizen’s well-being on the Key Peninsula. As of late, vaccine access and participation have been major hurdles

Susan Paganelli, Co-Director, Key Peninsula Partnership For A Healthy Community, “We are noticing access issues in our community. Yes, the vaccine is free, but planning out both shots if one is a busy parent (or a person with limited transportation) is not easy. Many local clinics are only open during work hours and that is difficult for working families. The ‘no appointment’ clinics are great, but a long way away from the Key Peninsula. Even if people have transportation, driving to Tacoma is 45 minutes to an hour or more (one way) and a toll bridge.

“Our group is working with our local partners to find ways to address vaccination resistance and reduce barriers to access. This requires a lot of two-way communication and time. We need to listen to those who have concerns and take the time to get them solid answers. We need to create access that is ‘out of the box’ for working families, single parents, and other caregivers. We then can coordinate amongst ourselves to share this information and share what is and is not working.”

 

VACCINE PARTICIPATION – What’s Next?

According to Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, as of June 30, 2021, Pierce County’s vaccination rate was 50.5%.

All four organizations agreed that people who are not getting the vaccine have valid reasons, and the need to really show respect and understanding for why people refuse vaccination is crucial. They say it takes community voice, trusted members, and education to escalate the importance of vaccine participation. They say it takes people working together and listening with compassion.

Marcy Boulet concluded, “as a public health department, we have been working hard to center community voice throughout the pandemic. As a community, we are at our best when we honor all of our diverse voices, act upon what we hear form our communities in our response, and work together to implement equity-based solutions, both for COVID-19 and for all of our work to improve community health.”

 

FURTHER RESOURCES

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department – COVID-19 Vaccine Community Outreach Toolkit – Resources to help community partners promote and answer questions about COVID-19 vaccine.
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department – COVID-19 Vaccinations in Pierce County
Tacoma Area Coalition of Individuals with Disabilities (TACID)
Key Peninsula Partnership For A Healthy Community
Tacoma Recovery Center
Springbrook Connections on FacebookSpringbrook Community Page

 

The PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Fund was launched as the public health response to COVID-19 in Pierce County escalated on Friday, March 13, 2020. The purpose of the fund is to support organizations in Pierce County providing services that meet urgent health and basic human needs due to COVID-19. United Way of Pierce County and Greater Tacoma Community Foundation partnered to create the aligned philanthropic response. GTCF seeded the fund with $1,750,000.