As Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health partnered with community organizations to provide all individuals with access to the COVID-19 vaccine, it recognized that a substantial number of Lancaster City residents — including communities of color, non-English speaking residents and the elderly — continued to face barriers to getting vaccinated.
Multiple factors can deter diverse communities from getting vaccinated, including limited information about the vaccine and its safety, lack of transportation or access to a nearby clinic, and apprehension because of past racial injustices and medical access inequities throughout history.
The LG Health Community Health & Wellness team is working directly with local organizations and places of worship to prioritize vaccine access through rides to the Community Vaccination Center or establishing convenient “pop-up” vaccination sites. An advantage to these smaller, neighborhood sites is the presence of familiar, trusted members of the community encouraging vaccination.
“The trusted relationships that we’ve established with community partners over the years have enabled us to spread the word about the vaccine and to bring the vaccine to those that they serve,” said Jessica Klinkner, manager, LG Health Community Health. “While our efforts started in Lancaster City, we’re continuing to identify and address gaps in vaccine access throughout the county.”
Bright Side Opportunities Center was the first site in Lancaster City to be transformed into a vaccination clinic, and gave 500 vaccines in just five hours.
Klinkner witnessed friends and neighbors reuniting while getting vaccinated at their church or community center. “Many of the people that we’ve vaccinated have been isolated for the past year out of precaution. Bringing community members back together (in a socially distant manner) to be vaccinated created a hopeful and optimistic atmosphere,” she said.