Education to address community vaccine hesitancy

Heart to Heart International has been providing COVID-19 vaccinations in under-resourced communities since March. The program is designed to work with organizations and community leaders in the most under-served areas and to reach those people who are vulnerable or hesitant.

It is done in partnership with organizations in the local Kansas City community, including Juntos Center for Advancing Health, KC Digital, Mid-America Regional Council, University of Kansas Medical Center, Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, Urban League of Greater Kansas City, and more.  Juntos Center for Advancing Health, KC Digital, Mid-America Regional Council, University of Kansas Medical Center, Wyandotte County Health, Urban League of Greater Kansas City, and more.

Members of these organizations meet regularly to discuss progress and to brainstorm ideas. KUMC provided Area Deprivation Index (ADI) maps that show which areas have the lowest vaccination rates. Using this information, HHI then reaches out in the communities to religious leaders, schools, community groups, and offers to come to them.

“These are communities that don’t have a CVS or Walgreens on every corner,” Stacy Tobin, HHI Community Health Worker, said. “People are busy and don’t have the time necessary to get to places to receive medical care. So when we are able to plug into events that are already happening in their community, we make it easier for them.

One of those events was a family night for a school for refugee children. The pre-planned night attracted 80 families with 27 languages attend. HHI was able to provide educational materials and answer questions for the families in attendance.

Vaccine hesitancy is not individual but often community-wide. Many of the people at these events don’t know anyone who has gotten a COVID-19 vaccine, so they have questions like, “What it is like?”, “Is it safe?”, “What will it look like in the future for me and for my kids?” They often ask the community health workers themselves if they have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine, because they want to hear personally from someone who has received one.

Stacy Tobin says the goal of the KC Programs department is not only vaccination, but to create deep roots in a community by providing health education and supplies the people within the communities need, including personal protective equipment, soap, sanitizer, and diapers.

Tena Tiruneh, HHI programs director said “We understand that communication and defending against misinformation must be a part of our campaigns. We also recognize that finding trusted community leaders from within each of our communities is key for disseminating our messaging.”

As of November 30, 2021, HHI has administered 6954 vaccinations at 140 events with 61 partner organizations. Find dates and times for upcoming vaccinations here.

Our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Agustina Boehringer made a series of informational videos in Spanish to educate community members on vaccine safety and efficacy. Find more videos here.

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HHI receives $1M grant for vaccination efforts

HEART TO HEART INTERNATIONAL RECEIVES $1 MILLION GRANT FROM HEALTH RESOURCES & SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
Grants were awarded to nonprofit organizations with programs to sustain a public health workforce to respond to COVID-19 and increase COVID-19 vaccine access.

LENEXA, Kan. – Heart to Heart International (HHI) was awarded a $1 million grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the primary federal agency for improving healthcare to people who are geographically isolated and/or economically or medically vulnerable.

The grant will fund the organization’s new program, Vaccine Outreach and Education Project, established to sustain a COVID-19 public health workforce including mobilizing community outreach workers, educating the public and assisting individuals in accessing and receiving COVID-19 vaccinations. Specifically, these HRSA grants were targeting programs that addressed persistent health disparities for vulnerable and medically underserved communities, including racial and ethnic minority groups and individuals living in areas of high social vulnerability.

“We’re honored to be a recipient of this funding. Our project is founded on our long-standing partnerships with trusted leaders in our community who’ve come together to address the negative effects of the pandemic,” said Heart to Heart International CEO Kim Carroll.

The grant focused on providing funding to local and/or regional community-based organizations and allowed individual organizations to partner to expand capabilities and complete a more comprehensive program. HHI partners include: JUNTOS, KC Digital, University of Kansas Medical Center, Urban League of Greater Kansas City and Community Health Council of Wyandotte County.

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, HHI partnered with Dr. Kevin Sykes from the University of Kansas Medical Center to study the efficacy of COVID-19 and education approaches to vulnerable communities. This included a concerted effort with the Kansas City Metro LatinX community to work with community leaders as cultural brokers to promote COVID-19 testing and secure leadership support. When the vaccines were developed, similar programs were developed and expanded throughout the metropolitan area providing more than 4,000 vaccines in less than 6 months.

In the future, HHI’s COVID-19 community-based outreach will focus on dissemination of a multi-cultural educational and advertising campaign specifically targeting vaccine hesitancy; vaccination clinics throughout targeted neighborhoods of Greater Kansas City; community informational and training sessions, mobile clinics, working with families to vaccinate those younger than 12 when that vaccine is approved and more.

“This project will be successful because of our proven track record of collaborating with the partners that we’ve assembled for this project,” said Tena Tiruneh, HHI programs director. “We understand that communication and defending against misinformation must be a part of our campaigns. We also recognize that finding trusted community leaders from within each of our communities is key for disseminating our messaging.”

Heart to Heart International will begin its Vaccine Outreach and Education Project September 2021.

Headquartered in Lenexa, Kan., Heart to Heart International (HHI) is a global humanitarian organization focused on improving access to health. Since its inception in 1992, HHI has delivered medical aid and supplies worth $2 billion to more than 130 countries, including within the United States. HHI responds to natural disasters both domestically and internationally by supplying medical relief and mobilizing volunteers. The organization is a 4-star Charity Navigator charity, a BBB Accredited charity and is on the “Philanthropy 400.” To learn more, visit hearttoheart.org

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