COVID-19 vaccines are becoming more widely available in the United States. As vaccine allocation includes a larger proportion of the population, understanding and overcoming challenges to vaccination experienced by different communities is essential to ensuring equitable vaccine implementation. Refugee, immigrant, and migrant (RIM) communities are at risk of being excluded from many vaccination opportunities due to various pre-existing barriers related to cultural and linguistic factors, challenges with accessing healthcare, limited transportation options, and a well-founded lack of trust in government organizations. Understanding specific challenges to COVID-19 vaccination experienced by these communities is essential to implementing an effective and equitable vaccine roll-out. Likewise, it is also important to provide information via channels that community members actively use and trust.
Reaching Communities through Facebook
Facebook is a popular source of information and communication for many RIM communities, including among some refugees, immigrants, and migrants (RIM). Facebook provides an easy-to-use and accessible platform to create groups and share information. Given that RIM communities face unique challenges when signing up for COVID-19 vaccines such as language barriers, economic barriers, and concerns about immigration status, the use of Facebook to create groups to assist community members is a promising practice for reaching RIM communities.
Facebook Support Groups in Washington State
“Find a COVID shot WA” is a Facebook group established to assist Black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) communities in Washington State navigate the COVID-19 vaccine registration process. Group members who identify as 60 years or older, who speak limited English, or have a disability can request help by posting hashtags such as “#searching” or “#support”. More than 75 trained volunteers speaking more than 15 different languages, then connect with individuals to assist them through the COVID-19 vaccine sign up process. The group has a dedicated phone number that individuals without internet access can call and leave voicemails in either English or Spanish. The Facebook group also created a Spanish language sister page called “Find a COVID shot WA'' with additional one-on-one assistance. More information about this effort can be found in an online article.