April 14, 2022 – Over the last eight weeks, Health Care For All (HCFA) has implemented a targeted canvassing and community outreach campaign in Framingham and Milford to increase overall vaccination rates and vaccine equity. The campaign focused particularly on families with children aged 5 to 11. It also helped eligible residents understand the importance of getting a booster and gain access to the third shot.

For this campaign, HCFA deployed a team of five people on the ground to help connect families to vaccinations in both municipalities. The canvassing and outreach team was trained to hold effective conversations about the need to get vaccinated, as well as basics about access to vaccines, including shots for children aged 5 to 11 and boosters for all those eligible. They surpassed their goal of 6,000 contacts during the deployment.

To complement outreach efforts, HCFA disseminated “Weekly Vax Fliers” with accurate information and a list of local clinics organized by the municipal health departments as well as other agencies. We made these available in Spanish and Portuguese. Canvassers distributed the “Weekly Vax Fliers” door-to-door, and as the Outreach Coordinator got them in the hands of partner agencies where this information was displayed, given hand-to-hand, and distributed via food pantries.

HCFA canvassers walk a Metrowest neighborhood during the latest vaccine outreach campaign.

Teamwork was an important part of our approach. We coordinated weekly with the health departments from both municipalities and other local stakeholders during this on-the-ground operation. These meetings helped us develop the different iterations of the canvassing script and determine weekly geographic and demographic priorities for canvassers. These meetings also allowed us to share weekly data to refine outreach activities and to share updated information on clinics.

HCFA’s Luby O’Connor meets with Pastor Soares of the Framingham Baptist Church during an outreach event.

This approach was successful. The recent influx of newly arrived families, many from Brazil, Haiti, and Ecuador, made it urgent to connect these populations to COVID vaccinations. They benefited from this tailored and multilingual campaign, which helped them understand the importance of the vaccine and where to get it. Even though the implementation of this campaign encountered challenges such as the Omicron surge and inclement weather, this project helped at least 1,000 people find their way to local vaccinations clinics in these areas.

Luby helps out at a Greater Framingham Community Church event during the campaign.

HCFA thanks the MetroWest Health Foundation for funding this initiative and for their ongoing support. We would also like to thank all our partner organizations who have made these outcomes possible. We know the vaccine is still the best protection against serious illness, hospitalization and deaths, and HCFA remains committed to help underserved and underrepresented communities access vaccinations as well as other services to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

Luby O’Connor is HCFA’s Outreach Coordinator