By Hannah Sullivan
I started serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) in August of 2020. As the end of my service year now quickly approaches, I have been taking time to reflect on my experiences.
COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout – The Early Days
Easily the most exciting event over the past year was the Emergency Use Authorization and subsequent rollout procedure of an effective COVID-19 vaccine (well, technically three vaccines). When this process began in December, it was elating to think that life could potentially return to “normal,” but daunting to ponder the logistics of the mass distribution effort. The biggest challenge during this phase was trying to balance efficiency with equity. It was imperative to vaccinate as many people as possible while working to provide opportunities for people who had been most impacted already by the pandemic, and those facing barriers to access the vaccine. For example, a clinic with 1,000 appointment slots could fill within minutes if it was posted on the JCPH website, but it would be filled by folks with access to the internet, time, and flexibility. To make 1,000 calls and register people without computers would take many more resources.
By Amy Bell
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of rapid health communications, especially as protocols change quickly as new information unfolds. During the pandemic, this has proved especially challenging for public health in keeping non-English speakers up to date with the latest information.
Dr. Lisa Diamond recently published a paper titled, “Providing Equitable Care to Patients with Limited Dominant Language Proficiency Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Dr. Diamond writes, “We know from years of research that patients with Limited English Proficiency experience disparities in timely receipt of public health messaging, understanding of important health information, and access to insurance and health care.”
As an AmeriCorps VISTA serving at Immunize Colorado in Aurora, Colorado, I wanted to create a project that addressed these language barriers and helped get these communities access to the COVID-19 Vaccine.
By Kate Matlin, Public Health Associate
Since public health stay-at-home orders were announced in Colorado due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, fewer parents have been taking their children to routine well-child visits. As a result, Colorado’s already-low vaccination rates dropped even further in early 2020. (For reference, during the 2018-19 school year, Colorado already had the lowest-in-the-nation rate for kindergarten MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination at 87.4%.) Compared to the number of doses delivered from January to March 15, 2020, doses delivered after March 15 to May were 31% lower for children 0-2 years, 78% lower for 3-9 years, and 82% lower for 10-17 years of age. Although vaccination rates have improved since this initial drop, they have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. And as disease prevention measures gradually ease up over the next year and kids head back to in-person learning, low vaccination rates could leave children vulnerable to diseases like measles.
Since the first COVID-19 vaccines became available, healthcare professionals, community workers, and politicians alike have been urging anyone eligible for a vaccine to get one. With cases still circulating in the U.S. and new variants threatening to worsen conditions, mass vaccination appears to be the best way out of the pandemic.
There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson (J&J), approved through Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the United States. So far, over 2.3 million total vaccines have been administered in the country as of April 27, 2021.The most recently approved vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine, was approved on February 27th, 2021, for all adults (18+).