Your incredible support toward our COVID-19 relief efforts has equipped us with the tools necessary to promote COVID-19 vaccines — especially to parents of children. With your generosity, we have been able to perform outreach to vaccine-hesitant communities who are at greater health risk, provide them with information about vaccines, and administer the shots.
Children’s Aid’s VP of Health and Wellness Rhonda Braxton sat down with BronxNet Host Daren Jaime to discuss what we’re doing to get New Yorkers vaccinated, with a focus children. You can watch it here, or read a section of the conversation transcribed below:
DAREN: “When we talk about children getting vaccinated we know that it’s been an uphill battle, how have things been looking on your end?”
RHONDA: “Well thank you so much for having me. Yes, it has been a little bit of an uphill battle, but Children’s Aid is very dedicated to the community and ensuring the health and wellness of the children and families that we serve. So we really at the beginning of the pandemic, we took to heart the idea that we have to go out and provide accurate medical information to our clients and their families, and to do our best to provide the best services to the community.”
DAREN: “And you’re not just waiting for people to come through your doors, obviously you have some mechanisms that you’re actively actually reaching people. You’ve got testing buses right in the borough of the Bronx. Talk to us about your buses and the work that it’s doing there.”
RHONDA: “Sure, well we first started with health education. We wanted to make sure that everyone had medically accurate information, so we had webinars, we had flyers, other campaigns, and then we partnered with other community organizations, even before we were able to provide vaccines at our sites, but testing was paramount to the success of the initiative. We partnered with the Health + Hospitals Corporation – the Test and Trace organization to get testing mobile vans/buses at our sites, primarily in the Bronx. That’s where we started, because we wanted to address the higher risk needs of our community. We advertised those services, partnered, had the vans there seven days a week on a weekly basis and we’re really proud to say that through that partnership we were able to provide 7,000 tests altogether; 5,000 tests in the Bronx. And later when the vaccine became available, we were also able to use those same resources for vaccination.”
DAREN: “We know within the African American community and communities of color there is a huge vaccine hesitancy, when it comes to testing, even that as well. Did you find that you were able to break down some walls if you will, to be able to get people to become more receptive given the fact that so many people still have some questions, even though we’re making some progress but still have a way to go?”
RHONDA: “Absolutely, again it was our goal to chip away — well, really first acknowledge the hesitancy and the reason behind it. Acknowledge the background that communities of color have had negative experiences historically with the medical field. And just address that head on. Have informational sessions, have trusted people of color and pediatricians who are known to be trusted resources in the community, to have one-on-one conversations, to educate first our staff, from the front desk on, as to accurate information — how to speak to clients. Again, webinars, one-on-one-conversations, you know, any kind of outreach that we could provide. Partnering with New York City Health + Hospitals Corporation, with the Department of Health, other community-based organizations to get accurate information out to the community. And to be able to provide a forum for people to ask questions and really to ask, ‘Did you get that vaccine Rhonda? Would you give it to your children?’ ‘Absolutely.’ So, serve as a resource for the community.”
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