Each week, we’re asking experts questions about COVID-19 developments. This week, we’re checking in with COVID-19 Community Coordinators about the efforts of getting COVID-19 resources and vaccinations to diverse communities around Minnesota (3:50).
- Each week, we're asking experts questions about COVID-19 developments. This week, we're checking in with COVID-19 community coordinators about the efforts to get vaccine information to diverse communities around Minnesota.
MARY XIONG: My name is Mary Xiong. And I am one of the vaccine outreach directors within the vaccine equity and engagement branch.
NANCY LEE: Hello, I'm Nancy Lee. And I work with MDH as the COVID community systems coordinator.
- What are COVID-19 community coordinators?
NANCY LEE: So the way that COVID community coordinators came about is that individuals from a number of different culturally focused organizations, the concerns that they brought forward were that they needed to have help to support their communities. Because they were receiving so many requests. The people were struggling with what was happening with the pandemic.
MDH was able to fund about 40 organizations statewide that focus on American Indians, people, communities of color, and members of the disability and LGBTQ communities. And they went forward and launched that program in the fall of 2020.
- What are the priorities for CCCs?
NANCY LEE: Priority concerns for CCCs right now, one is to continue to help their communities understand the importance of getting a vaccine, to do some myth busting, I would say, or misinformation education. So that the community members understand the importance, to think about what could this mean for them and their family to be safe.
And the second thing is the concern about housing should the moratorium on evictions be lifted, and how can they help them, and what will their community members legal rights be. And a third thing actually is there is a concern about finding transportation to vaccination sites. So we are working with MNDOT and Metro Transit to try to work together collaboratively around that issue.
- How are COVID community coordinators looking to reach specific communities?
MARY XIONG: So mobile units currently and, again, a lot of the logistics still has to be fully planned out. But this would look like a unit going into a community setting where people are comfortable and are familiar with, so that we can really reach those populations that are in the greater Minnesota. So that we can make sure that they're not falling through the cracks, and that we're also ensure they have accessibility to a vaccine as well.
NANCY LEE: The mobile units can also perhaps be a lifeline for persons with disabilities who have less of an ability to travel long distances. With this unit, it's closer to their home, or, if we become innovative enough, perhaps be at their home, depending upon the severity of their health concern.
- How can someone give back and help their community get vaccinated?
MARY XIONG: It's so important for people to continue to share their story to their neighbors, their friends, their family about why getting the vaccine matters. Any time that anyone is able to get a vaccine and they want a vaccine, they should take it. The opportunity is there. And we want to make sure that we can all end this pandemic together.