May 4, 2021 - Health

The next vaccination push will lean on churches, employers

Illustration of a woman in the middle of a circle, between two other circles, receiving a vaccine shot.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. vaccination effort is preparing to lean on employers, houses of worship, community organizations and even home-based delivery in order to reach the people who haven't yet gotten vaccinated.

Why it matters: Shots will need to become much more easily accessible and trusted organizations will have to help overcome vaccine hesitancy in order to keep America's vaccination progress going as demand begins to wane.

The big picture: Some folks jumped at the chance to get a vaccine and others never will.

  • "What we've seen over time is a smaller and smaller 'moveable middle" as people moved into either of these two buckets," said Sree Chaguturu, the chief Medical officer of CVS Caremark.

Driving the news: CVS Health announced last week plans to introduce employer-based vaccination clinics through its "Return Ready" program. A recent KFF study found nearly a quarter of Americans were more likely to get the vaccine if was available at their workplace.

  • SCAN Health Plan, a non-profit Medicare Advantage HMO in California, teamed up with a startup, MedArrive, to deliver vaccines to the homes of patients who physically can't leave to go get a shot — or who are simply afraid to.
  • “Human psychology is funny, and sometimes, just the fact that someone is willing to come to your home and explain it to you and be there with you can be the difference between taking it or not taking it,” SCAN CEO Sachin Jain said.

"We need to be more creative about meeting people where they physically are," said Erica Johnson, chairwoman of the American Board of Internal Medicine's infectious diseases specialty board and Johns Hopkins assistant professor of medicine.

  • Working with trusted individuals in a community can help remove structural barriers and provide persuasive pro-vaccine messages, Johnson said.
  • Regional pharmacies and mobile clinics could reach adults who are homebound or in rural areas, while churches could offer trusted and convenient vaccine sites.

The bottom line: "Different access points mean different things to different people," Chaguturu said.

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