After months of mass vaccine sites, health officials in Pierce County look to a more community-oriented approach.
TACOMA, Wash. — Though Washington is officially 70% vaccinated, there are some counties that need to catch up.
Pierce County is still working to get its vaccination numbers up. As of July 14, just over half of the population is partially vaccinated.
Though there have been some spikes, Pierce County’s numbers have shown a gradual decline for administered doses.
Community organizers say allowing folks to speak to each other directly may be what’s needed to create a bottoms-up approach to the problem, because mass vaccine sites may not be the answer anymore.
“What we have seen is that has only been able to penetrate our communities to a certain extent,” said Lyle Quasim, chairman of the Tacoma Black Collective. “So it just follows in organizational reasoning that we now have to follow different approaches.”
Health authorities are trying new ways to reach people where they are.
“Over the last couple of months, we’ve really made that switch from mass vaccine sites to where our communities are at,” said Megan Komar, deputy branch director of immunizations for the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department. “We’re trying to get to farmers’ markets, different community celebrations, various different food banks, to get to our population that might not have been able to get to what we were doing before with the mass vaccination sites.”
The hope is that working alongside trusted voices in the community will help move the needle for the county’s vaccination rates. Organizers say they’re up for the challenge.
“The numbers that we have, which are lagging behind other parts of the state, especially along the I-5 corridor are not a result of not trying,” Quasim said. “We have dissected this, and we know where the resistance is, and now we’re going to try to engage people and meet people where that resistance is and give them a reason to take the vaccination.”
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