Health officials teaming up with United Way to get more people vaccinated

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 11:22 PM EDT
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BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. (WNDU) - In an effort to get more shots in peoples’ arms, the Berrien County Health Department and United Way of Southwest Michigan are teaming up in a unique way.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us. We have had a longstanding partnership with the Berrien County Health Department in lots of different ways,” said Rachel Wade with United Way of Southwest Michigan.

Soon, they will recruit volunteers to knock on people’s doors and attend community events to talk to people who are hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It won’t work to come at them with too much information convincing them that they are wrong. It really needs to be a dialogue with someone that they trust. Someone who will approach that interaction with both compassion and dignity,” said Wade.

“We know there are some in our community who may be hesitant or just need more information about the vaccine before they are willing to say yes. This is why our partnership with United Way and using volunteers to help have some of those one-on-one conversations we believe will be really helpful in providing that information and getting people to say yes to the vaccine,” said Gillian Conrad with the Berrien County Health Department.

“And they are much more likely to trust people. Individuals. People that they know and already have relationships with. That’s kind of at the hub of this vaccine and champion effort,” said Wade.

At last check, the health department said less than 50 percent of Berrien County residents are fully vaccinated.

“We have information down to the Census track level as far as vaccination coverage rates, so we know exactly which areas in Berrien County have the lowest rates of vaccination coverage and might need more of that vaccine champion presence,” said Conrad.

The health department received a $46,000 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to support this initiative.

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