Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Austin Public Health to Host Virtual Feedback Sessions



Community Feedback Requested as Equitable Outreach and Access Remain Priority for APH Vaccine Operations 

To deepen its ongoing conversation with communities across Austin and Travis County, Austin Public Health (APH) is hosting a "Moving Forward Together Against COVID-19" event. The two virtual engagement meetings will collect public feedback on participants' vaccination experiences with a focus on those who may have been disproportionately impacted by the virus. 
 
The virtual session will be offered twice - once during the week and alternatively on the weekend. To join the conversation, log on using Zoom or through the SpeakUp Austin! website, which includes access to the Zoom meetings: 

  • Monday, Oct. 25 from 6:30-8 p.m. on Zoom 
  • Saturday, Oct. 30 from 10-11:30 a.m. on Zoom 

Language-specific breakout sessions follow the informational portion of the meeting.  Simultaneous language interpretation will be provided in American Sign Language, Arabic, Burmese, English, Spanish and Vietnamese. 
 
"We are continually refining our processes to ensure a focus on equity," said Austin Public Health Interim Director Adrienne Sturrup. "an important part of this refinement is checking in with community.  We need you, Austin-Travis County, to tell us where our vaccination processes are working, and where they are not. " 

Individuals will be able to provide feedback, suggestions, and comment using SpeakUp Austin which will be published by the time of the virtual meeting. SpeakUp Austin will offer translations in Arabic, Burmese, English, Spanish, and Vietnamese; as well as Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Korean, and Urdu.

"As we move into the next phase of this pandemic, we must ensure the hard work of our community is not diminished by continuing to reduce new cases and hospitalizations. We need our community to step up once again and get booster doses for those who are eligible," said Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes. "Booster doses will extend the protections afforded to our community and continue to help reduce the burden on our hospital systems by preventing severe illness and need for hospitalization." 
 
Prior Vaccination Outreach Efforts 
With the increased availability of vaccine providers, APH has had greater latitude to shift from a hub-type provider operation, as seen earlier this year with the initial rollout of vaccines, and adjust operations to meet the needs of indigent and hard-to-reach populations. 
 
As APH has returned to being a safety net provider, partnerships with community organizations, and the development of a vaccine coalition have become vital throughout the equitable outreach process. The vaccine coalition regularly reviews data and strives for more equitable distribution. Thus far, the coalition has relied heavily on hyper-local community organizations, social media messaging and a 311 call option to address concerns and spread awareness among hard-hit populations. The coalition has seen success coupling vaccination outreach with food distributions and identified the importance of offering information in as many languages as possible. 
 
The coalition and other organizations help APH provide education on the importance of vaccines and overcome hesitancy and misinformation. In addition, these types of partnerships provide much-needed access to the COVID-19 vaccine for many communities in efforts to reach herd immunity and prevent an additional surge of COVID-19 cases. 
  
Beyond traditional outreach organizations, APH has also worked with faith-based organizations and grassroots organizations within the Eastern Crescent in continued efforts to remove access barriers. For example, partnerships among the UT School of Nursing, Austin Community College, and education and outreach task forces have extended support of additional pop-up vaccination clinics using opportunities to provide the vaccine to individuals who may not have otherwise had the time or resources to get one from one of the traditional sites. 
 
For additional information and updates about COVID-19 vaccines, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19-Vaccines.

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