If Each One will Reach One, A Healthy Georgia will Emerge
Guest post by Gilda (Gigi) Pedraza, executive director, Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia)
Ana took a deep breath, summoned her courage and asked, “My daughter had kidney surgery a few years ago – where can she get the COVID-19 vaccine?” While the ask was simple, what she really was asking, was for a place that was not going to require a drivers’ license and where she could ask questions to clinical professionals without fear of not having insurance. Ana was scared, but she wanted to do her part to keep herself, her family, her clients and Georgia safe.
Ana does not speak English well, she works cleaning a private health clinic. She is an immigrant and has been in Georgia for 35 years. Ana’s daughter is an American citizen and is 17 years old.
To ensure that Ana and other Georgia residents like her: without insurance or a drivers’ license and with a language limitation can have clear information and access to the COVID-19 vaccine; a coordinated effort pairing clear, relevant, actionable contextual messaging and the development of low barrier access vaccination sites, was needed.
This is exactly what the working group convened by Frank Fernandez, the CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and Katie Kirkpatrick, CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce have been working on since March.
The group, a collaborative network of community organizations, businesses, funders, health systems and nonprofits, has a clear equity lens, centering race, language, documentation status, age and ability as critical considerations for all efforts.
Already, dozens of vaccination events have been organized by group collaborators upholding the principles to design for the most vulnerable communities in our state: essential, manufacturing, agricultural workers, those learning English, those with limited documentation, those with visible and invisible limitations, those with unreliable access to transportation, those in rural areas, those without insurance.
In the works is a playbook including key recommendations and best practices learned collectively during our weekly meetings so health professionals, vaccinators, counties, community organizations, faith leaders and anybody interested in hosting a vaccination event, can have clear guidance on how to make sure anybody that is ready to receive the vaccine, has the easiest access in a welcoming environment.
Coordinated and collaborative efforts are required for shared learning, effective and efficient vaccine distribution to all communities. Equally importantly and long-term, this initiative, will have a decisive role in strengthening the communication and collective learning of the diverse communities that call Georgia home.
The Community Foundation/Metro Atlanta Chamber working group efforts, the recent vast simplification of the Georgia Department of Public Health vaccine appointment platform and the launch of the site in Spanish, are all significant efforts towards a healthier Georgia.
All of us, like Ana, should do our part. Get your shot, talk to your friends, colleagues, relatives, neighbors. Tell them if they are ready, there is a vaccine for them, and if they are still thinking about it, that so many of us, are working to make sure getting it is easy, quick, and that they will receive it in a safe location, close to where they are.
If you are interested in receiving a copy of the playbook, please reach out to Elyse Hammett at [email protected].
Photos courtesy of Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia).