This the second episode of our new Vaccine Confidence series on At the Core of Care. Over the course of four episodes, we will dive into different facets of the COVID-19 vaccination effort, including education, advocacy, and community partnership.
You can listen to At the Core of Care on the Pennsylvania Action Coalition’s website, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Stay tuned for the rest of the series in the coming weeks by following us on Twitter and subscribing to our newsletter.
In this episode, Annette Gadegbeku, M.D., Associate Professor and the Associate Dean of Community Health at the Drexel University College of Medicine, joins us for a conversation on community health, including her role in vaccination and testing initiatives at Drexel University.
Annette shares some key community health lessons learned after rolling out these initiatives at Drexel’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. “There's so many things that are involved in this work,” she shares. “At the very top is hearing voices and building trust.” She details ways that health facilities can earn trust, including being consistent and demonstrating a long-term interest in the community’s wellbeing.
Two examples of this strategy in action were the Dornsife Center’s weekly “Ask the Doc” and “Community Health Chats,” that were offered both in-person and virtually before the pandemic. These were spaces for community members to learn more about their health conditions, medications, and various wellness topics. It was also an opportunity for people to get familiar with the Dornsife staff and “see a familiar face,” Annette says.
The Dornsife Center started running mobile vaccination clinics across Philadelphia in 2021 to improve the vaccine rollout in underserved communities. According to Annette, these mobile clinics offered the best chance to address and reduce COVID-related health disparities in Philadelphia because they went further to overcome access issues. Patients returned consistently to receive mandatory COVID tests for work, and her team of volunteer Drexel students were eager to work with them at a time when it was difficult for students to get patient contact. The mobile clinics benefited everyone; the patients gained trust in the staff whom they saw consistently, and the staff got steady opportunities to build confidence in the COVID vaccines.
Funding for these mobile vaccine clinics has now ended, and with the announcement of the end of the public health emergency on May 11th, Annette is worried that there will be fewer opportunities across the country to maintain community-based programs that formed during the pandemic. Annette believes that consistency and sustainability are vital to building a community’s trust in a healthcare facility. Thus, the sudden discontinuation of programs might send the wrong message to communities.
Annette says that we now need to look at providing vaccine education and encouraging COVID vaccinations as part of routine care, and as a part of advancing health equity. “Our goal every year is to help all achieve their best health. That's what health equity is. So, the best, best health that they can achieve. And this is a part of it.”
Nurses and other health professionals across the country are using innovative methods to vaccinate their communities against COVID-19. Follow along as we explore other professionals’ stories as part of our Vaccine Confidence Series.
This project was funded in part by a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (grant number NU50CK000580). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this resource center do not necessarily represent the policy of CDC or HHS, and should not be considered an endorsement by the Federal Government.