New partnership helps expand access to COVID-19 vaccines
Wake County Public Health is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine outreach strategy to include bringing vaccinations directly to homes. For weeks, teams have been working to educate residents about vaccines with door-to-door canvassing efforts, partnering with Southeastern Healthcare of NC and El Centro Hispano. Now, clinical personnel from WakeMed Physician Practices are joining those teams, on standby to administer free shots to eligible residents who would like one.
Using Census tract data to identify low vaccination areas in Wake County, these outreach teams are working to increase vaccine intake at a time when COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. Public Health staff, community health workers and vaccinators are able to take time to have one-on-one conversations with residents, provide education and answer any questions they might have prior to making the decision to get vaccinated.
"This initiative is just another way we’ve flexed our COVID-19 response to meet people where they are,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Matt Calabria. “As the delta variant threat increases in our county, this expansion of our vaccine outreach emphasizes convenience and access for our communities hardest hit by the pandemic.”
Everyone 12 and older is eligible for a vaccine. About 70% of that eligible population in Wake County has received at least one dose, but there are still areas of the community where vaccination rates are only in the 30% range. Community partners and health experts say that’s why this kind of work is critically important.
“In the beginning, we assumed vaccine hesitancy would prevent many from obtaining the vaccine. However, our historically marginalized communities were just looking for access,” said Dr. Nerissa Price, Medical Director of WakeMed Physician Practices Well-Being Initiatives. “Once again, as we've seen the vaccination numbers going down at our clinic sites, we assumed people were no longer interested in obtaining the vaccine. But with this new effort to bring vaccine directly to people's doors, we are again proving that, at least for some individuals, this is still about access. And access…we can fix.”
The teams will provide both first and second doses to eligible residents during canvassing efforts. Wake County Public Health is not providing on-demand vaccine services at this time, however residents who are homebound or have limited mobility can request at-home vaccination appointments through the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services At-Home Vaccination Request Form.
Local media are invited to capture this effort tomorrow, Friday, July 23 at 1 p.m. as Wake County Public Health partners with WakeMed Physician Practices for our door-to-door efforts. The teams will be starting out from the Wilder’s Grove Shopping Center at 4121 New Bern Avenue. That’s where a free vaccine event is taking place in front of the Hamrick’s retail store from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please contact Communications Specialist Kimberly Bowman if interested in heading into the neighborhood with the canvassing team.
Dr. Nerissa Price and Lwiza Escobar, Community Engagement Specialist at Wake County Human Services, will be available for interviews. Media must get permission from all vaccine recipients included in their coverage.
Wake County Public Health encourages all eligible residents ages 12 and older to get a COVID-19 vaccination. For more information on the COVID-19 and the vaccine, visit WakeGov.com/COVID.