Cooperative Extension programs are making an impact on communities across the country with immunization education efforts, particularly with vaccine-hesitant individuals. Activities include mobile vaccination clinics in partnership with local health organizations, social media campaigns, the development of online toolkits promoting research-based immunization information, and more. This month, the EXCITE program is highlighting how an immunization education program in Virginia implemented a hotline phone registration system that now receives 28% of all vaccination registrants in the county, and how a team in Louisiana is using social media to promote COVID-19 vaccination fact sheets.
The Extension Foundation, in cooperation with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP), through an Interagency Agreement (IAA) with the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are funding the Cooperative Extension System (CES) to address health disparities among rural and other underserved communities. This initiative is called the Extension Collaborative on Immunization Teaching & Engagement (EXCITE).
The EXCITE program serves all land-grant universities through two-phases of activities: system-wide engagement with the CDC’s Vaccinate with Confidence communication campaign, and adult immunization education pilot projects.
Those across Cooperative Extension working in the area of Immunization Education have been registering their programs in the National Registry of Cooperative Extension Programs and Assets (NRCEPA). The NRCEPA is a new tool made available through the Extension Foundation to create a living database of Cooperative Extension programs, projects, and curriculums to rapidly identify existing work across the system for national funding opportunities. Currently, the NRCEPA is in pilot with the EXCITE program.
For May 2021, EXCITE is highlighting two programs registered in the NRCEPA that are working in the area of immunization education:
Madison County COVID Vaccination Clinics
The Virginia Cooperative Extension in Madison County worked with the local health districts and hospitals to create a county-wide COVID Vaccine hotline registration system and vaccine clinic to target the county’s underserved population. By implementing a hotline phone registration system, they were able to decrease registration barriers which allowed for farmworkers, elderly with limited or no internet access, and those with limited English proficiency to register for vaccines. Due to this innovative and efficient effort, Madison county has now administered 4466 vaccines at the clinic with 28% of the registrants coming through the vaccine hotline. The Virginia Cooperative Extension will continue to build on its trusted relationship with the public to implement strategies to vaccinate hard to reach and hesitant populations.
In the NRCEPA, this program has offered several digital assets to assist other Cooperative Extension programs. This includes their vaccine appointment form template, COVID-19 Vaccine 101 factsheets, infographics, and sample advertisements.
COVID-19 Vaccine Education/Outreach Initiative – Southern University
In Louisiana, Southern University Extension Agency was facing the issue of low vaccine registration turnout due to medical mistrust among their community members. Being a trusted community resource, Southern University was able to combat this issue by utilizing their social platforms and website to inform and educate on COVID-19 and vaccinations. Southern University used pre-existing information and data from the CDC to create fact-sheets for their website, as well as the CDC social media guide to launch campaigns and webinars on the COVID-19 vaccine. This outreach and education program was an initiative created to educate and advise their underserved population on vaccines and the need for immunization.
In the NRCEPA, this program has offered several digital assets to assist other Cooperative Extension programs. This includes several infographics and fact sheets.