UPenn Sponsors ‘Vaccine Street Team’ to Go Door-to-Door in Philadelphia

In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, syringes containing the COVID-19 vaccine are displayed in Pompano Beach, Fla. The nation’s biggest immunization rollout in history is facing pushback from an unlikely source: health care workers who witnessed COVID-19′s devastation firsthand but are refusing shots in surprising numbers. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, …
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File

The University of Pennsylvania is sponsoring a “Vaccine Street Team” to go door-to-door around West Philadelphia, encouraging people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Councilmember Jamie Gauthier has teamed up with the Penn Medicine and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and has assembled a team of volunteers to coax West Philadelphia residents into getting the jab, according to a report by AL DÍA.

So far, the Vaccine Street Team — which uses a canvassing model similar to how those running for office might campaign ahead of an election — has reportedly visited 9,161 pre-mapped homes.

The canvassing model was proposed by nonprofit executive director Matt Goldfine, and nurse practitioner and Penn Nursing graduate student Tarik Khan, reports the Daily Pennsylvanian.

The team was established largely in response to low vaccination rates among black residents in the city, who account for 42 percent of Philadelphia’s population. As of July 11, only 48 percent of black residents have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

According to a recent survey, a majority of Americans who have not yet been vaccinated for coronavirus indicate they will likely not get the shot.

UPenn’s Center for Public Health Initiatives community engagement director Heather Klusaritz says she believes there is a crucial need to encourage vaccines, due to the rise of coronavirus variants, like the Delta variant.

“Our traditional ways of getting the word out about vaccines, whether through the news media, social media, or connecting with community and faith-based organizations, were no longer as effective,” Klusaritz said.

“We are at a point where people need to build trust and create opportunities for people to have conversations about their vaccine concerns in order to support vaccine decision making,” she added.

Some residents were reportedly talked into getting the vaccine after speaking with members of the Vaccine Street Team, reports the Daily Pennsylvanian.

Similarly, universities are also offering paid internships to students — known as vaccine “influencers” — who push coronavirus vaccines through a social media campaign, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College Health Association (ACHA), and Youth Marketing Connection (YMC).

Correction — As initially published, this article improperly attributed the “vaccine street team” program to Penn State. The program includes the involvement of the University of Pennsylvania

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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