Getting APAH Residents the COVID Vaccine: efforts underway to decrease barriers

The race to get COVID-19 vaccinations “in arms” has been an urgent matter since the first vaccines were approved in mid-December 2020. But the outreach to, and mobilization of marginalized groups has been a challenging process. Many APAH residents who qualify for the vaccine due to age, occupation, or health reasons have had difficulty preregistering with the state due to a lack of internet or technology access, language barriers, and – of course – the demand for appointments far outpacing the supply of vaccines available in our region.

An APAH resident receives a flu vaccine during a 2019 health fair. The health and safety of our residents has always been a high priority.

Over the past few weeks supply has improved and APAH has found new ways to make accessing a vaccine easier for residents. By partnering with the Arlington County Department of Health, APAH was able to distribute information and resources about the COVID-19 vaccination process at many of our Arlington properties through masked door-to-door information drops. The Department of Health also staffed  several pop-up information tables at on-site food distributions which allowed residents to ask questions about the vaccine and learn more information about its benefits. These events were important to ease worries about the vaccine, especially among marginalized groups who are often hesitant to trust the US healthcare system.

After APAH shared information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine with residents, Neighborhood Health selected APAH as a community partner to help increase equity in COVID-19 vaccination. Neighborhood Health visited several APAH properties in Arlington to register eligible residents for vaccine appointments through their own distribution system. These seven in-person registration events, held throughout March, have helped decrease barriers for our low-income residents wanting to receive the vaccination.

So far, Neighborhood Health has registered over 130 residents for vaccine appointments! APAH staff is continuing to reach out by phone to residents who may not have been able to attend in-person events.

Additionally, APAH’s EVP, Carmen Romero, and Board Member Ted Hicks are members of Arlington’s Complete Vaccination Committee (CVC), helping to build confidence among those in our community who may be hesitant to get the vaccine. APAH is committed to making sure that residents feel understood and supported through this process that will ultimately help save lives and allow for a safer and healthier community.