COVID-19 vaccines: Providing reassurance to communities
Many community organizations worked to reassure people who feared the vaccines were unsafe, even though they have been extensively tested. Online misinformation about vaccine safety has been rampant.
Reaching people with such concerns requires trust, said Janice Deguchi, executive director of Neighborhood House, which supports immigrants and refugees, many of whom speak limited English.
“Our staff speaks over 45 languages,” Deguchi said. “As a trusted messenger, we can combat rumors with accurate information.”
The Ethiopian Community in Seattle has hosted three community clinic events, providing vaccines to over 600 people. “People are grateful for the opportunity and the support they received in a place that speaks their language and answers their questions,” said Tsega Desta, a program manager for the organization.
“Through the workshops we provided in Amharic about the safety of the vaccines, we were able to convince the older generation and demystify any myths they have. As a result, they came to be vaccinated in numbers,” Desta reflected.
Close community ties are the key to successful outreach, agreed Dr. Anisa Ibrahim of the Somali Health Board of King County.
“Trust is the keystone to strong relationships, and it is earned,” Dr. Ibrahim said.