After months of advocacy, 97 percent of people supported in AHRC residences have received the Covid-19 vaccine, as of May 2021. Now, the agency is entering the next phase of its plan to ensure the community’s continued health — achieving a high staff vaccination rate.
The agency has actively promoted staff vaccination since frontline staff were identified as a priority vaccination group. With the vaccine now available to all, the agency is ramping up efforts for as many AHRC staff as possible to be vaccinated.
The agency has simultaneously provided prioritized vaccination appointments in staff pods through Northwell Health, alongside an ongoing education campaign based on staff hesitancy shared in surveys. The agency has created a series of webinars and Q&As with medical professionals, Covid-19 update emails, a resource page highlighting the latest information, as well as open-door office hours by senior management to respond to concerns.
“Right now, our individual choices impact the collective,” said Stanfort Perry, Executive Director of AHRC Nassau. “Vaccination is not only about protecting ourselves, it’s about safeguarding others and reducing the spread of the virus.”
For people supported by AHRC programs, like Markiah Addison, the need for staff vaccination has become more and more pressing.
For Addison, vaccination is important to “(stay) safe (for) us and the guys they work with and other staff, year round.”
For the ease of staff, the agency is currently determining the viability of organizing worksite-based vaccination opportunities.
“Everyone wants to be healthy. If we can make it easier for our staff members to become vaccinated, then we will do everything in our power to make that happen,” said Christopher O’Connor, Associate Executive Director of Programs at AHRC Nassau.
To do so, the agency is facilitating as much discussion as possible on the science supporting the vaccination.
“A year ago today, we were in a very different place and it was devastating the loss we had agency wide” said Dr. Mary Mulqueen of Advantage Care Health Centers during a recent webinar. Dr. Mulqueen, herself, initially questioned the speed and safety of vaccine production.
“Because there were millions of Covid cases, they were able to complete the studies very quickly. They went through the same rigorous science as the other vaccines. It’s just that the red tape was cut,” said Dr. Mulqueen.
Dr. Sophia Francis-Stewart, also a physician at Advantage Care, added an important point. “The mRNA vaccines had been worked on prior to Covid coming around. People feel like it’s a new type of science that’s been invented when in fact they were doing research on mRNA vaccines to target infectious viruses. They decided to take the knowledge and information they had and use it to create the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines,” said Dr. Francis-Stewart.
For the agency and the community, vaccination is an opportunity to more fully engage in the world after many months in quarantine – and a reason for celebration. To applaud and recognize the joy of again coming together, the agency launched the #MyShotRaffle. Four fully vaccinated employees have a chance to win $250 gift cards once they share a shot of their vaccination card with the agency by July 31.
“I urge every unvaccinated staff member to sign up for the vaccine,” said Perry. “With ever lightening Covid-19 restrictions and the opportunity to come together more fully, staff vaccinations are central to a healthier future for our agency.”