Health Alliance isn’t done trying to increase vax rates, and a strategy out of political consultation is next

A Get Out The Vax volunteer works in Boston in June. (Photo: Take out the Vax via Twitter)

Cambridge Health Alliance has hired a political consultant specializing in getting the vote to try to increase vaccination rates against Covid-19. The consultant, Mac D’Alessandro, and his company, Campaign Industries, will use a strategy that worked in the election, D’Alessandro told members of the CHA population health committee on March 17.

“We realized that something good came out of politics,” D’Alessandro said. The method, called “tripling the votes”, was used by organizers trying to persuade more people to vote, he said.

Organizers would “stand in front of polling stations” on Election Day and ask people who had just voted “if they would be willing to contact three friends or family members and ask them to come out,” D said. ‘Alexandro. It was more persuasive than more conventional canvassing methods, he said.

This may well translate into efforts to persuade people to get vaccinated, as conversations between people who know each other involve “less condescension,” A’Alessandro said.

He called the CHA experiment a “triple of vaccines.” In it, 15 “trained, multilingual organizers” will call CHA patients who have already been vaccinated and ask them to contact three people “in their personal network” whom they suspect may not have received a vaccine, D’Alessandro said. . Vaccinated patients will talk with family members or friends about the vaccination, he said.

The eight-week program will operate in Everett, Revere and Malden, communities classified by the state Department of Public Health as underserved and also within the Alliance’s service area. ACH’s research arm, the Institute for Community Health, will examine effectiveness, including asking patients and organizers about their experience, said executive director Sarah Jalbert. Whether unvaccinated people were vaccinated after being contacted will be based on their own report, not independent evidence.

Boston effort

The CHA is not the first organization in Massachusetts to use political organizing strategies to increase Covid-19 vaccination rates in underserved communities. A diverse group of health care, local government and community groups launched Get Out The Vax, or GOTVax, in low-income, non-white neighborhoods in Boston in February 2021. They opened pop-up vaccination sites in these neighborhoods and “used commonly used strategies”. in political campaigns,” including “door-to-door, phone and text banking, and relationship organizing,” according to a June 30, 2021, commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst, a publication about healthcare innovations.

This effort included the “tripling of vaccines”, and more. Organizers obtained contact information for the Boston Housing Authority, unions and other entities serving low-income people of color and called, texted or visited them to sign them up for appointments. vaccination in pop-up clinics. As people waited the required 15 minutes after vaccination, organizers approached them to contact three family members or friends.

Over nine weeks, GOTVax vaccinated 4,784 people at 26 clinics in low-income minority neighborhoods, according to the report. Of the total, 80% identified as people of color, nearly 41% had no health insurance and nearly 25% were covered by Medicaid, the program for low-income people. Few blacks were vaccinated, however, only 6.5%; Hispanics made up 57%.

Proven experience

CHA spokesman David Cecere said the Campaign Industries project is an “extension” of the type of program developed by GOTVax. He said Campaign Industries was chosen “because it has a proven track record in vaccine equity, education and outreach programs, including contract work” with the state.

According to D’Alessandro, Campaign Industries worked for seven months last year with the state Department of Public Health and Healthcare for All, the health care consumer advocacy group, raising “awareness and education” about immunization in nine underserved communities.

Cecere said he didn’t know exactly how much Campaign Industries was paid.

Comparison of vaccination rates

Everett, Malden and Revere, the communities where the tripling vaccine program will work, have better vaccination rates for certain ethnic and racial groups than Cambridge. A higher percentage of Asian and Latino residents were fully vaccinated in these three cities than in Cambridge, for example. Malden and Revere also have a higher proportion of fully vaccinated residents, according to the state’s latest report from March 31.

“The ACH is committed to vaccine equity which assesses vaccination rates by population, not just the total number vaccinated,” he said. He pointed out that there are far lower proportions of fully vaccinated black residents in Everett, Malden and Revere than in Cambridge, where 83% are fully vaccinated.

Cecere also said the percentage of fully immunized children ages 5 to 11 in Everett, Revere and Malden is much lower than in Cambridge. But Cambridge continues to lag the state and the three “equity” communities in vaccinating teens 16-19.FacebookTwitter

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