Marion County health officials reach out to combat declining vaccine demand

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — Marion County health officials and organizers with the #GotMyShot campaign are ramping up efforts to reach out to Hoosiers who still have questions, concerns or other barriers preventing them from getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Who may have issues with access, may have issues with transportation, and they may have issues that they don’t have anyone that they can talk with,” said Marion County Public Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine.

While the #GotMyShot campaign has hosted several vaccination clinics, which drew hundreds of people at a time, Thursday’s event at the John Boner Center was organized as a “help desk” event. People had the opportunity to walk in, ask questions about the COVID vaccines and register for an appointment.

The effort comes as health officials are working to counter a decline in demand for COVID-19 vaccines.

“It’s important for us to try to reach them where they are,” Dr. Caine said, “bring services to them, not forcing someone always that you have to come to us.”

Question and answer sessions not only inform residents about the vaccine, but they also give health officials useful information they can use for pro-vaccination messaging.

“Trying to understand the why,” Caine said. “Why did you get vaccinated? What was important? What was the driving force?”

Marlene Dotson, president of the Indiana Latino Institute, says encouraging vaccinations among the Hispanic population means addressing concerns and misconceptions some people have about the vaccines.

“Clarifying that they do not need health insurance, clarifying that they do not need a state ID, they can provide any other type of ID,” Dotson said. “And most of all, making sure they know the vaccine is completely free for everyone.”

Rupal Thanawala, president of the Asian American Alliance, says there is still a lot of vaccine hesitancy among younger Asian-Americans in Indiana.

“A lot of young people and young adults think that they are okay and they can not be infected by COVID, but that’s not the facts,” Thanawala said.

While the event at the Boner Center from 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. had a low turnout, everyone who came in had their questions answered and made an appointment for a vaccination. Planners were hoping for a larger turnout at a second event from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Caine said more informational sessions were being scheduled and would be announced soon. More information is available at gotmyshotcampaign.com.

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