Vaccine education outreach
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented complex challenges for society. Balancing individual freedom with protecting public health has often been seen as difficult. University of Georgia Extension received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide vaccine education for agricultural workers in southwest Georgia. Because migrant workers constitute a significant source of labor for the agricultural sector, ensuring the health and wellness of this population of workers was identified as a priority audience for vaccine education outreach.
The nature of agricultural work involving migrant workers requires close contact and travel to different farms and communities, increasing the likelihood of farmworkers contracting and spreading COVID-19. Because their operations were categorized by state and federal officials as essential, producers and farm workers carried on their work under new regulations and health advisories. Within the rural community, underserved populations lacked sufficient resources and access to healthcare, resulting in obstacles to addressing infection and prevention of COVID-19. The majority of educational outreach was not translated for non-English speaking individuals, including many agricultural workers with an H-2A Visa which is a program that helps American farmers fill employment gaps by hiring workers from other countries.
The outreach project aimed to increase vaccine knowledge and reduce vaccine hesitancy among farm workers. Strategies to gauge community and partner needs included surveys of producers, focus groups with migrant farm workers and conversations with community and health partners to discuss the efficacy of current programs and collaboration efforts and needs. Finally, UGA Extension agricultural agents were recruited to gain access to growers and determine the best approaches to education. Funding from the CDC enabled localized data collection to help inform efforts to expand access to the COVID-19 vaccine, notably for vulnerable populations in rural areas, development of suitable messaging and resources for both growers and migrant farm labor and 4-H lesson plans about vaccine development.
Link to full statement on website: http://landgrantimpacts.tamu.edu/impacts/show/6078