Fair Haven is a Diverse Community with a Rich History and a Beautiful Waterfront
If you've tried to schedule an appointment for a COVID vaccine, you’ve probably experienced a frustration or two. If you haven't had the privilege yet, no doubt you've heard others grouse about the long phone hold times, the lack of appointments, and the legendary VAMS registration platform.
Now imagine trying to navigate these challenges without the required technology or language familiarity, the luxury of a day that allows you to spend a half hour on hold, or the ability to get to that one appointment finally found 45 minutes from your home.
Our neighbors in Fair Haven have been hard hit by COVID. Today, a year after the pandemic began, the Fair Haven community has a 10% positivity rate at a time when the State average is below 3%. This alarming statistic, coupled with barriers to appointments, mandated it was time to think outside the box to help the community.
A little over 2 weeks ago, a group of community leaders, Fair Haven neighbors and Fair Haven Community Health Care staff gathered on a Zoom call to launch “Vaccinate Fair Haven” (VFH). The goal? Knock on all 5,648 doors in Fair Haven, to make sure every person who wanted to get vaccinated had access. Powered by street teams, contact info would be captured, appointments would be made, wait lists created for ages not yet eligible, rides scheduled if needed, and importantly, home-bound neighbors identified for in-home vaccination.
On Saturday March, 13th, 250 volunteers gathered at FHCHC to start knocking. Mayor Elicker, Senator Blumenthal, and Congresswoman DeLauro, and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Chair of President Biden's Task Force on Health Equity, all joined to praise the effort and participate in the canvassing. Community leaders spoke of the pioneering nature of VFH and a bomba band celebrated the heritage of the neighborhood. As a sea of VFH t-shirts set off by foot into the community, the mood was electric. Enjoy pictures of the day here, as a Flickr guest.
Over the ensuing week, hundreds of appointments were scheduled at the FHCHC vaccination center at Wilbur Cross High School. Rides were arranged for those lacking transportation. Those in need of an in-home vaccination were identified and scheduled. And a list of then under-aged neighbors wanting a vaccine when eligible grew longer and longer.
VFH may be the first vaccine outreach effort of its kind in the state, perhaps even the country, but the results are clear. The way to connect an under-represented community with vaccines is through their front door.