Monday, June 20, 2022

COVID-19 Outreach in Rural Areas - Reflection of Outreach in North East Texas

Over the past few months, our Rural Communication Institute (RCI) team (Dr. Jennifer T. Edwards, Dr. Subi Gandhi, and Dr. LaShondra Manning) has been tirelessly providing education and outreach for the rural areas of East Texas. This outreach has been both challenging and rewarding since the pediatric vaccine was approved by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

Educating parents about the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. As a parent, I am always very excited to share health information, but especially this information has been very important for me.

Here's a workshop that we were very excited to view from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. This workshop was focused on "What About the Children: Changing the Landscape on Rural Vaccine Coverage". It focused on health in rural areas, especially for our youngest populations.

Also, we have been fortunate to receive funding for travel for our outreach events, shirts, and giveaways. Here's a special shout out to the Episcopal Health Foundation in Texas, because they provided so much support for our project.

At first, we partnered with existing vaccination clinics and these were not very well attended, but THEN we decided to venture out on our own and to create our own clinics with the health of the Texas Department of State Health Services. We have been experimenting with the best time and date for our clinics as well all content for the clinics.

We decided a "Summer Fun and Health Clinic" approach has been the best outreach strategy for reaching the community. The mid-day clinics (before 5pm) were not as well attended for some audiences (i.e. - parents), but other times had much better attendance (after 5pm).

Also, we partnered with Agrilife (Mrs. Clarissa Moon) and Above Average Health Care and House Calls. Agrilife provided educational outreach sessions and Above Average Health Care and House Calls offered health checks and interpretations of lab results.

Do you have any suggestions for us? We are so thankful for our partners!


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Dr. Jennifer T. Edwards
Professor of Communication
Executive Director of the Texas Social Media Research Institute & Rural Communication Institute

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