SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Louisiana is launching an intensive effort to get its residents vaccinated against COVID-19.
Bring Back Louisiana #SleevesUp is a grass-roots campaign to get COVID-19 vaccines to “communities of concern” through targeted pop-ups and outreach.
The initiative announced Thursday, March 18 by Gov. John Bel Edwards will begin with nine pilot programs — – one in each Office of Public Health region of the state — and will include community vaccination events the second and third weeks of April.
“It’s a massive undertaking. We need strong partners to help,” Edwards said during his afternoon briefing.
The goal is to meet people where they are, particularly those in “underserved, on-the-fence and hard-to-reach communities,” identify their needs and remove any barriers that may exist so they can make an informed decision when it comes to getting a COVID-19 vaccination.
Initially, the strategy has 20 partners, including the AARP, the AFL-CIO, the NAACP of Louisiana, the Urban League, the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry, the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, the Louisiana Primary Care Association, the Louisiana Rural Health Association, the Power Coalition, Together Louisiana and the LSU AgCenter.
“Several of these partners have been doing these efforts at the local level. It’s just a start,” the governor said. “We’re looking for more, whether faith-based, community, you name it. If you want to get involved making calls, knocking on doors, fill out the Bring Back Louisiana survey.”
The survey asks for your name and contact information.
It also wants to know how you would like to volunteer to help with Bring Back Louisiana. That could be by knocking on doors, making phone calls or hosting a question-and answer session with a medical professional in your community.
There’s even a box to check for those who want to volunteer but are unsure how they can help.
And if you are a medical professional, the survey asks whether you would be willing to be connected with residents who have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.
“Vaccine by itself just sits in a freezer,” Edwards said. “We need people’s arms. It’s up to people in America how much normalcy. And that depends on the number of people and the speed at which people get vaccinated.”
State health officials will use real-time data to determine where the nine pilot sites will be and then to monitor how well those efforts are progressing.
Next will come community-planned events backed by trusted members of the community, said Dr. Joseph Kanter, Louisiana’s top health official. Those events will be extensively promoted through targeted outreach beforehand.
“It’s not enough just to host an event. You have to have ground level, to be connected with an expert,” the state health officer explained. “That’s the real linchpin of this — phone banking, working with faith-based leaders, community partners, and to connect them with other resources. We will be employing both paid and earned media.”
And there’s a social media aspect, with Louisiana offering a “Sleeves Up” Facebook frame and SnapChat Lens with an invitation for you to post your vaccination selfie.
Such efforts are what are needed to get Louisiana over the next hurdle, he added. And a two- or three-week supply of vaccine won’t be limiting factor.