BALTIMORE, MD (Wednesday, February 10, 2021) — Today, Mayor Brandon M. Scott and Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa announced a new partnership with Morgan State University, the Maryland Institute College of Art Center for Social Design, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s International Vaccine Access Center. This new collaboration will facilitate listening sessions and develop tailored educational materials and training to address the needs of key demographics in Baltimore, both in terms of vaccine access, but also to address vaccine hesitancies.
“As a City, we must continue to lead and develop partnerships that will benefit our residents and reach out most vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “Forging new partnerships that lead to innovation in outreach and education are a major step in this critical fight to understand access issues and to address vaccine hesitancy among different segments of our population and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to collaborate with Morgan State University, the Maryland Institute College of Art Center for Social Design, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s International Vaccine Access Center.”
The collaborative has already formed committees to address specific concerns related to vaccine hesitancy and vaccine access in older adults, young men, homeless, pregnant and lactating women, people with disabilities, as well as Baltimore’s Immigrant, Latinx, and Orthodox Jewish communities.
“Bringing together the International Vaccine Access Center’s wealth of knowledge in addressing vaccine hesitancy, Morgan State University’s ties to the community and influence across Baltimore City, and the Maryland Institute College of Art Center for Social Design incredible creative talents, this partnership will allow us to address the hesitancies of Baltimore City residents, and with time and effort, ease residents’ concerns about receiving the coronavirus vaccine.” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa.
This program ensures that residents in communities hardest hit by COVID-19 hear from their neighbors and trusted messengers in their communities about the importance of getting the vaccine when they are able and to combat myths and misinformation about the vaccine. Residents will also learn how to get connected to other health and social support resources they may need.
“Engaging the community to co-design approaches to build trust in vaccination and institutions is an important step forward,” said Lois Privor-Dumm, Director, Adult Vaccines at International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “We can bring knowledge of the vaccine, but the community knows their own context and how best to use that knowledge. It’s not solely about vaccination – it’s about people and how they access information and make decisions.”
“The Center for Social Design at Maryland Institute College of Art is excited to bring a human-centered design approach to this collaboration to ensure that the community members who are most impacted by COVID have the ability to design their own vaccine outreach strategy,” said Becky Slogeris, Associate Director, Center for Social Design.
Another component of the partnership is the launch of a provider education and outreach campaign. This campaign will work with public health providers (Federally Qualified Health Care partners, pharmacies, healthcare providers, and clinics around the city) and other social, education and community organization providers, to ensure that vaccine providers have answers to their concerns about vaccine and are equipped with the tools necessary to address patient concerns as they arise.
“Reaching a vaccination rate of 70-80% is the key goal of this important partnership and through respectful community engagement, which includes active listening and learning, we’ll be able to reach herd immunity,” said Dr. Yvonne Bronner, professor, School of Community Health and Policy at Morgan State University. “I’m sure that with us all working together – we will reach herd immunity – one person at a time.”
The Baltimore City Health Department and its partners will begin to address vaccine hesitancy by conducting listening sessions with the faith-based community and community organizations, with the first listening sessions scheduled for Friday, February 12th.