In the COVID-19 response, some vaccination sites are challenged to vaccinate large numbers of refugee, immigrant, and migrant (RIM) community members due to misconceptions surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine, language barriers, confusion about the registration and administration process, and awareness of existing services. Ensuring access to accurate vaccine facts and information about vaccination sites and the process is critical for these communities. The availability of accurate COVID-19 vaccination information that is culturally- and linguistically appropriate is essential to keeping communities safe and helping RIM community members make informed decisions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Likewise, it is also vital to provide information via channels that community members actively use and trust.
Sharing COVID-19 Vaccines Experiences with the RIM Communities
Some RIM community members are recording their experiences navigating vaccination sites and receiving the vaccine. Sharing these real experiences allows their friends and family to see what they can expect when visiting a site, which can ease mistrust or confusion. Social media and messaging applications are popular sources of information and communication for many communities, including among some RIM communities. These platforms provide an easy-to-use system to share videos and information.
Sharing RIM Vaccine Experiences in Alaska
In Anchorage, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (ADHSS) and Anchorage Health Department partnered with the Alaska Literacy Program and their peer leader navigator program to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine and offer information and answers to questions. Eventually, the group members felt informed enough from the information sessions to get the vaccine when the vaccine was widely available. Realizing the communities they work with would have to navigate some barriers to vaccine access, the peer leader navigators used their own experiences to document the vaccination process. Each peer navigator recorded and translated a script on navigating the COVID-19 vaccination process, what to expect at an appointment, etc. A health communications specialist with the Alaska DHSS uses those pictures to make videos showing each step of the process visually and in a straightforward way. Select translated videos will be shared with South Sudanese Nuer and Dinka populations in Anchorage, where there is a need for COVID-19 vaccine information in these languages. Videos are available in Arabic, Amharic, Somali, Korean, Russian, and Samoan.