Laurel Greer, left, and Judith Irizarry. (Source: United Way of Lancaster County)
Laurel Greer, left, and Judith Irizarry. (Source: United Way of Lancaster County)

United Way of Lancaster County has launched a grassroots outreach effort to inform underseved communities about the COVID-19 vaccine and encourage vaccination.

Two Community Health Outreach Specialists, Judy Irizarry and Laurel Greer – are leading the effort. They are trauma-informed trained staff with hands-on experience working at Vaccinate Lancaster.

Deb Jones, licensed social worker, works with the team as project manager and supervisor ensuring equitable distribution of the vaccine and community resources to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 among our vulnerable populations. The work is funded by a $50,000 grant from Temple University.

“With all of the misinformation and disinformation circulating, we hope to help our community know the facts from credible sources,” Greer said.

"No solo para ayudarte a ti mismo, sino también a tus seres queridos,” Irizarry said: "It's not only about helping yourself, but also your loved ones."

The team is taking a three-pronged approach:  informative small group sessions, hosting informational tables at community events, and door-to-door canvassing.

Help overcome vaccine hesitancy

Lancaster County businesses and organizations are invited to schedule COVID-19 Vaccine Community Outreach sessions or host a Community Outreach table. For more information, contact Laurel Greer at [email protected] or (717) 394-0731 x116.

To find a vaccine near you, visit vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233.

The small group sessions are designed to be a safe and trauma-informed space for open dialogue with individuals who are uncertain about the vaccine. Irizarry and Greer will share lists of available vaccine centers near host locations. The goal is for individuals involved in these sessions to feel heard, respected, and hopeful.

The Community Health Outreach table display offers take-away COVID-19 vaccine information, visuals that help to counteract common misinformation/myths, and information on where individuals can be vaccinated.

Through door-to-door connections, neighbors are invited to consider the vaccine and are provided with local resources United Way of Lancaster County partners. At this point in the pandemic, those who are unsure about the vaccine seem to respond more positively to one-on-one interaction.

The team is focusing on certain ZIP codes in rural parts of the county and in Lancaster city that have increased concern. For more information, follow #GetInformedLancCo.

The Temple University grant concludes Nov. 30.

One United Lancaster