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Vaccine . Engaging Trusted Messengers to Increase COVID-19 Pediatric Vaccine Uptake in Philadelphia: Lessons from the VaxUpPhillyFamilies program

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  • Vaccine . Engaging Trusted Messengers to Increase COVID-19 Pediatric Vaccine Uptake in Philadelphia: Lessons from the VaxUpPhillyFamilies program

    Vaccine


    . 2024 Jun 8:S0264-410X(24)00664-9.
    doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2024.06.008. Online ahead of print. Engaging Trusted Messengers to Increase COVID-19 Pediatric Vaccine Uptake in Philadelphia: Lessons from the VaxUpPhillyFamilies program

    Sarah Badlis 1 , Haolong Yu 2 , Heather Klusaritz 3 , Andy S L Tan 2 , Teresa Dooley 4 , Helaine Heggs 4 , Sophia Collins 4 , Gabriela Raczka 5 , Naomi DeRoche-Brown 4 , Rachel Feuerstein-Simon 5 , José A Bauermeister 3 , Antonia M Villarruel 3 , Stephen Bonett 3 , Karen Glanz 3 , Terri Lipman 3



    AffiliationsAbstract

    Introduction: Communities of color had higher rates of Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and lower rates of COVID-19 vaccination during the pandemic. Parental concern about the safety and necessity of pediatric COVID-19 vaccines contribute to low childhood vaccination. Enlisting parents and caregivers as trusted messengers is an evidence-based approach to mitigate this challenge. VaxUpPhillyFamilies was formed to engage parents and caregivers as vaccine ambassadors to increase vaccination rates in children of color. This study aimed to understand the key benefits, challenges, and lessons learned from the VaxUpPhillyFamilies program.
    Methods: Three online debriefing sessions with ambassadors were conducted between September 7 and October 24, 2022, to share best practices, address challenges, receive emerging vaccine information, and provide support. Thematic analysis was utilized to develop broad themes and subthemes.
    Results: Four themes with corresponding subthemes were identified: 1) Motivations to Become an Ambassador: a) improving the health of the community and b) personal satisfaction; 2) Defining Success: a) community interactions and b) influencing opinions; 3) Best Approaches: a) being mentally prepared with facts, b) addressing community health needs beyond COVID-19, c) demonstrating empathy, d) "meeting them where they're at" by motivational interviewing, and e) building trust and connection; 4) Challenges: a) changes in vaccine guidelines, b) vaccine misinformation, c) varied perceptions of severity of COVID-19 illness and benefits of the vaccine, d) breakdown of communication from trusted sources, and e) structural barriers to engagement.
    Conclusion: Parents and caregivers were a resource for delivering evidence-based messaging about COVID-19 and other health challenges. To effectively equip parents and caregivers as public health ambassadors, it is critical to offer training in engagement strategies, to identify and combat misinformation, and to provide support in navigating challenges. VaxUpPhillyFamilies program is a model for future public health campaigns.

    Keywords: COVID-19 Vaccine; Community-based Organizations; Trusted Messaging; Vaccine Uptake.

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