Encouraging COVID-19 Vaccination through Sports

Immunization rates are lower among refugee, immigrant, and migrant (RIM) communities due to factors which include limited culturally and linguistic appropriate information, knowledge and beliefs about a disease and vaccine, and challenges accessing healthcare (related to cost, transportation, medical system complexity/unfamiliarity, lack of welcoming environment, etc.). Vaccine hesitancy is a significant hurdle to ending the COVID-19 pandemic and getting back to everyday activities. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions circling through RIM communities, which has delayed or halted vaccination efforts. Building trust in the vaccine through community partnerships and respected officials are key to improving vaccination rates. 

Promoting COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts through Sports 

One way to build trust and promote vaccination efforts within communities is to meet people where they are. Engaging communities at familiar and frequented event sites, such as sporting and routine athletic events may be one strategy to decrease some of the barriers to vaccination access for RIM communities. This strategy may include promoting COVID-19 prevention materials at sporting events or bringing COVID-19 vaccine mobile clinics to these activities. Recruiting athletes as spokespersons may also be a helpful strategy. 

Vaccinating RIM Communities in Maine at Community Basketball Events

Northern Light Home Care and Hospice held two COVID-19 multi-age vaccine clinics in a public housing location where the community holds basketball games. This community is comprised of mostly Latino youth. One of the managers of the Northern Light Home Care and Hospice stated, “If we become a familiar face every week, then they start to trust us, so that’s one of the strategies.”  The basketball game organizer has extended the season in order to catch second dose vaccines in three weeks. The organizer has also translated an educational flier into approximately nine different languages about the event. There are also translators on site to support the vaccine clinic.

Multi-Lingual PSAs Featuring Football Hall of Famers

PA Health & Wellness, a Managed Care Organization that provides Medicaid and health insurance plans in Pennsylvania, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame produced English and Spanish PSAs to encourage vaccination rates among communities of color using testimonials from Football Hall of Famers. The PSAs focused on the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves and loved ones. David Baker, President and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame shared, “As we’ve seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re a team and need to work together to stop the virus from spreading...We recognize there are a lot of questions out there about the vaccine, so we want to make sure we’re reaching as many people as possible.” Additionally, the PA Health & Wellness Interim Medical Director, Dr. Venkateswara R. Davuluri also shared details about the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine, its safety, and potential vaccine side effects. 

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