TOPEKA – With the White House focused on getting at 70 percent of U.S. adults vaccinated by the Fourth of July, the number of unique partnerships and innovative approaches being pursued is rather impressive.
Enticements range from free cruises to Super Bowl tickets, Xboxes to airline travel, groceries, MLB tickets … if there is a prize that could help motivate unvaccinated individuals to take action – it likely is being offered.
Individual states are stepping up their game as well. College tuition, million-dollar drawings and NASCAR packages all are on the table as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Kansas, community health centers and clinics across the state are in the midst of a month-long “Roll ’em Up … Show ’em You Care” push to drive up vaccination numbers as well. (The latest White House numbers show 60.1 percent of Kansans 18 and older have received at least one dose.) While health centers might not have the resources to offer such big-ticket enticements, they do have the wherewithal and creativity to increase access by bringing doses to where the arms are located.
At the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, for example, prospective brides and grooms can have all their wedding guests vaccinated before the big day.
The Salina Family Healthcare Center will vaccinate people doing their laundry or in coordination with the local Meals on Wheels route.
Vibrant Health is showing up at churches of all denominations across Wyandotte County.
Flint Hills Community Health Center offers doses at the middle school, GraceMed can be found providing vaccinations at United Methodist churches in the Wichita area, and HealthCore plans to be at the Sedgwick County Zoo as well as team up with the Early Detection Works Pink Van.
“The clinics in the Community Care Network of Kansas are located strategically throughout the state to serve historically underserved individuals,” said Denise Cyzman, CEO of Community Care. “Our members have well-established relationships with communities of color, the uninsured and underinsured – the very groups being adversely affected by COVID-19 and whose vaccination rates still lag behind the general population.”
Approximately half of Community Care’s members have special vaccination events scheduled this month in addition to shots being available for patients at the clinics.
“Our team has been getting creative to bring vaccine doses to where people are,” said Genell Heimer, Salina Family Healthcare Center’s COVID-19 Project Manager.
“We’ve continued to partner with local non-profits and events centers to host vaccine clinics to reach unvaccinated people in a place that’s convenient to them. If you would like to partner with us for an event or have an outreach idea, we’d love to hear it!”
Community Care and its national counterpart, the National Association of Community Health Centers, also have developed strategic partnerships with various organizations to support this vaccination push.
The ride-share company Uber is offering free transportation to and from inoculations. Door Dash, the food delivery company, has donated $2 million in gift cards for health centers to distribute. United Healthcare, a Kansas managed care organization, is providing “sneakers on the ground” to assist in local vaccination events.
Mel Martin, Community Care’s Director of Development and Training, said the enthusiasm clinics are bringing to “Roll ’em Up … Show ’em You Care” is gratifying.
“Our members know their communities,” Martin said. “They know where the unvaccinated people are, and they’re doing whatever is necessary to reach them.”