Travel to Anaheim on a weekday afternoon and there’s a chance you’ll run into Dr. Karl Hess, Pharm.D, associate professor in Chapman’s School of Pharmacy and director of Community Pharmacy Practice Innovations. Stationed at a booth provided by the City of Anaheim in a neighborhood parking lot or apartment complex courtyard, he administers COVID-19 vaccinations at pop-up sites in communities that are experiencing lower vaccination rates and more limited vaccine access.
Local Partnership Brings Event “to People’s Front Yards”
They have administered nearly 100 doses to residents as young as 12 years old.
“It has been a great partnership. The city identified neighborhoods that need resources and have low vaccination rates,” Hess explains. “These events are literally in people’s front yards and parking lots in order to make the mobile resource fairs more visible to everyone so they can get the help and information that they need.”
In a statement, the City of Anaheim says it launched the Mobile Resource Center Project to meet “the most immediate needs of Anaheim residents that have endured economic and financial hardship throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.” Other city departments represented in the effort include public utilities, workforce development, fire and rescue, police, community services and the public library.
Hess also notes that the city has provided translators to help Spanish-speaking individuals ask questions about the vaccine and to assist with filling out forms.
Meeting the Community Where It Is on Vaccine Hesitancy
Even with the vaccinations widely available to all adults and children as young as 12, Hess notes that these pop-up events are essential for getting both resource-strapped and vaccine-hesitant individuals to opt in.
Hess says that many residents are waiting to see if their friends have any vaccine side effects before opting in themselves or are simply fearful about the vaccination. To meet residents where they are, he notes the importance of having members from within the community vouch for the vaccine.
“What has really worked well is having people in these neighborhoods stay at the booth and talk to their neighbors – their opinion goes further than a city authority or me in my white coat. It’s more effective from a neighbor’s perspective, from a community leader,” Hess says, adding, “that is the biggest impact we can make—finding partnerships and working with the city to find these people. Everyone should be getting vaccinated.”
Read more about Chapman’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19 here.