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Going door-to-door for COVID vaccine: treading lightly and taking 'no' for an answer

Jeanne Kuang, The Kansas City Star on

Published in News & Features

One woman, holding a garage sale, eagerly accepted some handouts and promised to distribute them to her shoppers. Another said she worried about the man next door, and pointed Schroeder in that direction.

AGE-OLD PRACTICE

Katie Towns, acting director of the Springfield-Greene County department, called door-to-door "an age-old public health practice" that the department has used for years.

"We have members of the communities that we serve, so people that look just like us will be showing up to possibly talk about vaccines, to answer questions," she said. "It's a good, sound public health practice where we can meet people where they are."

The state health department has said that there are communities where door-to-door simply is not an option. In low-vaccinated Shannon County 135 miles east of Springfield, anti-vaccine sentiment is so high a clinic has offered private rooms for patients who don't want to be seen getting a shot.

"We're not going to go knocking on doors," Shannon health department administrator Kandra Counts said. "We've made that very clear to the public."

 

In Greene, health officials said they've held nearly 10 door-to-door canvasses so far. They're using surveys at clinics to track the impact in driving turnout, but said there's not enough data to report yet.

Door-knocking is just one piece of outreach. The rest is equally painstaking: urging conversations between family members, getting local clergy and other non-government community leaders involved.

Last week in Springfield, two pastors appeared with the health department at a press conference urging vaccination.

The Central Assembly of God, whose downtown Springfield church has a congregation near 1,800, hosted a clinic with the health department in June and will do so again this week.

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