Public Health Practices: Enhancing Emergency Preparedness & Response
Public Health Practices
Enhancing Emergency Preparedness & Response
ASTHO - The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

Outreach to racial and ethnic populations encouraging vaccination (VA)

Virginia Department of Health
Practice Description: 

As part of the Virginia Department of Health's (VDH) H1N1 vaccination campaign, state health officials undertook many activities to reach racial and ethnic minority populations in the Commonwealth. The state used measured research to thoughtfully position H1N1 media and outreach efforts to minority populations, specifically African-American and Hispanic groups. For example, state district health directors reached out to the historically black colleges and universities and American Indian tribes in their jurisdictions. In Richmond, the health department is contracting with a health system that operates a mobile van to target 18-24 year olds in low-income housing projects, and a campaign was planned for December that targets special events such as concerts to reach 18-24 year olds who are not in college.

Some tribes in Virginia are not federally recognized. The Virginia Department of Health has worked with health directors in the two districts that serve these tribes, including how the state can partner on vaccination activities, said Diane Helentjaris, MD, MPH, epidemiology at the VDH.

The outreach has involved a lot of letter-writing, as well as staffing tables at meetings or conventions, she said. The communications team received extra training from the Office of Minority Health and Public Health Policy. In addition, the minority media listed was expanded for greater inclusivity.

VDH contracted with an organization on vaccine promotion. They did focus group research on different populations, including minority populations, to determine knowledge base and attitudes to target PSAs. From that VDH received a 15-20 page document of research that helped target groups with most useful messages. For example, the research showed that many members of the Hispanic community of northern Virginia were interested in getting shots, and simply wanted to know where. Public service announcements (PSAs) are intentionally diverse to better represent the population.

Broad-based community outreach included:
* Folk Festival of Virginia, including hand-washing demonstrations and information distribution

* American Lung Association, including hand-washing demonstrations and information distribution

* Distribution of faith-based information, including letter from the commissioner, talking points, H1N1 prevention and words of inspiration from various faith leaders to the Office on Volunteerism and Community Services, VA Department of Social Services, for joint efforts in outreach opportunities

* Creation of article targeted to the faith-based community

* Bus boards have "It’s Safe. It works." in the top 10 languages spoken in Virginia

* More than 200 movie screens in Virginia display public service messages about H1N1 before movies

* Drafted and sent e-mail to list of statewide faith-based groups requesting that they forward attached information to their churches. E-mail included link to CDC toolkit:

* Reached out to Asian and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and the NAACP offering speakers bureau services, communication toolkit resources and Web links.
* Arranged for reporter to interview Dr. Remley and Dr. Royster for a Sunday Richmond Times-Dispatch column for parents.

African-American outreach included:
*Messages on cable and network television

* Radio outreach

* Commissioner Dr. Karen Remley and Dr. Mike Royster (director of the Office of Minority Health Programs) conducted on-air interviews with the Radio One network of three stations targeted to the African-American demographic.

* Staffed resource table at Baptist Convention Virginia's Fall Leadership Conference in September

* Provided H1N1 brochures for Mount Olive Baptist Church conference in Glen Allen.

Hispanic outreach included:
* TV spot produced in Spanish

* Posters and informational brochures produced in Spanish for local health districts to disseminate

* External bus boards in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk and Northern VA; Metro rail station boards, Northern VA.

* Coordinated telebriefing for Spanish-language media

* Staffed a resource table at the Latino Behavioral Health Symposium.

State / Territory: 
Research findings