Researchers Look At Promoting COVID-19 Vaccines To Certain Groups, And Avoiding Bottlenecks

Jan 15, 2021

As COVID-19 vaccines are administered across Oregon, a big part of their reception by residents will depend on messaging.

A man gets the COVID-19 shot.
Credit Province of British Columbia / Flickr.com/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Elizabeth Marino is a cultural and environmental anthropologist with Oregon State University, who specializes in COVID-19 public health messaging.  She’s researching how to address the “extreme polarization” over vaccines, and says there’ve already been national surveys on reaching certain groups.

“Specifically towards people who self-identify as Republican or Libertarian, that tend to have a strong individualistic value system," said Marino. "So those demographics tend to correlate with messages that really emphasize taking care of one’s own family.  Patriotic messaging seems to resonate well, and generally taking care of one’s elders is a message that resonated across a very wide swath of people that we surveyed.”

Other groups, such as Native Americans and Blacks, have historical experiences with government health agencies that make some apprehensive.

Marino hopes to have research findings out in about a month.

As vaccines are deployed across Oregon, another OSU scholar says there remain logistical challenges beyond supply.

Joe Agor is an expert on optimizing vaccine distribution efforts. He said assembling adequate amounts of licensed pharmacists is also vital.

Oregon Army National Guard Pfc. Mariah Baumgardner, a medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1249th Engineer Battalion speaks with Gov. Kate Brown during a visit to the Marion County COVID-19 vaccine distribution clinic at the Oregon State Fairgrounds on Jan. 13, in Salem, Oregon.
Credit Maj. Leslie Reed, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment / Oregon National Guard/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

“The main challenge is encountered with personnel available to administer the vaccine," he said. 

"You need a certain license to administer vaccines on any level. They’re working to understand this entire process. From a person arriving to them leaving. This causes a challenge because of the people that have to administer the vaccine, they also have to care for their other patients.” 

Agor added the supply chain can also be unpredictable, and personnel need to be there when vaccinations arrive so they can stored appropriately.

The Oregon Health Authority said it's recently reached its goal of administering 12,000 vaccinations a day. But news that there isn’t a federal reserve of doses is putting that goal in question.

Both Agor and Marino shared their comments during an OSU media availability on the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines.

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