Connecting state and local government leaders
The $2.9 million initiative funded by the federal government will focus on knocking on doors through Labor Day to boost vaccination rates among these groups.
State officials in Connecticut will use door-to-door canvassing and “virtual house parties” to encourage residents to receive the coronavirus vaccine, a federally funded project that will focus primarily on Black and Latino neighborhoods.
The initiative, announced last week by Gov. Ned Lamont, is a joint effort with Grossman Solutions, a Hartford-based public affairs firm whose clients include Access Health CT, the state’s insurance marketplace.
“The door-to-door canvassing program will focus on knocking on doors in areas of need and getting residents scheduled for vaccination appointments,” Lamont’s office said in a news release. “It will also support the advertising of mobile and pop-up clinics. This program will be executed with the collaboration of local public health and municipal leaders.”
The state will fund the $2.9 million project using money it receives from the federal government as part of a recently announced effort by the Biden administration to “expand access to Covid-19 vaccines and increase vaccine confidence.” In addition to the outreach effort, the project will include $5.3 million in funding to expand call center operations for the state’s vaccine appointment assistance line.
Much of the outreach budget will go toward salaries for dozens of employees, including 70 canvassers, a canvass supervisor, a campaign manager and a data coordinator. Canvassers will be paid $23 per hour and receive a stipend for mileage, while other positions are advertised only as having “competitive pay” and benefits, including a stipend for health insurance, according to job postings on Grossman’s website.
“Ultimately, this campaign will assist individuals in scheduling appointments and help them access the vaccine,” says the campaign manager job description. “The campaign will reach residents through paid and volunteer phone banks and canvasses and small outreach events.”
The campaign is expected to last through Labor Day and will “prioritize majority African-American and Latino neighborhoods” in major Connecticut cities, the website said, including Bridgeport, New Haven, Stamford, Hartford, Waterbury, Norwalk, Danbury, New Britain, Bristol and Meriden.
Despite existing outreach efforts, state health officials have struggled to vaccinate minority populations in Connecticut’s cities. As of March 22, 37% of white residents had received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 20.4% of Asian/Pacific Islander residents, 19.9% of Black residents and 16.7% of Hispanic residents, according to data from the state Department of Public Health.
The outreach campaign will aim to help close those gaps as more vaccines become available, officials said. In addition to employing canvassers, the state plans to reach out to trusted community leaders in minority neighborhoods, including pastors and church leaders, to promote the vaccine.
Organizers will also work to assist residents in “hosting virtual house parties with their friends and neighbors to help ensure residents have the facts about the Covid-19 vaccine and can share their experiences,” the governor’s office said.
“It is about ensuring that there’s access as easily available for everyone who wants a vaccine as possible,” said Josh Gaballe, the state’s chief operating officer. “It will build upon very similar activities that have already been going on in many of these communities—bringing vaccine to churches, to community centers.
“People now are going door to door, doing outbound calling, reserving appointment slots for people,” he said. “But there’s much more that we need to do.”
Kate Elizabeth Queram is a staff correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.