Here’s how you can request a free COVID-19 vaccine presentation for a group

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 5:17 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska’s public health team and physicians across the state have partnered to meet Alaskans where they are, listen to their questions about COVID-19 vaccinations and offer science-based answers.

Anyone can request a free presentation for a group interested in learning more about the COVID-19 vaccines available in Alaska.

“It doesn’t have to be a certain size, we’re happy to come and talk to any size group in any scenario,” said Dr. Lisa Rabinowitz, a staff physician with public health and a member of the state’s COVID-19 task force.

According to the Department of Health and Social Services, between Feb. 2 and April 15, the state provided 81 virtual presentations about COVID-19 vaccines to rotary clubs, community councils, chambers of commerce, business groups, health organizations and other groups. The group sizes have been as small as small as three people and as large as a town hall event in Juneau.

Using Zoom allows them to cover more ground, said Rabinowitz.

“I can be talking to a village one night, Brother Francis the next night and then out at Chickaloon Community Council,” she said.

And no question is off limits.

“Even if it’s kind of a wild question that they got deep into Facebook or subreddit, they still have a safe place where they could ask it, ask it publicly and then feel heard in that space,” said Dr. Jocasta Olp, an Anchorage-based pharmacist.

Whether folks are excited about the vaccine, against it, or find themselves in a gray area in the middle, Rabinowitz said the goal is to reach everyone.

“Even people that are kind of feeling like they definitely don’t want the vaccine, we’re happy to engage people and have that conversation as well,” she said.

“And you’d be surprised at how quickly those who are ‘I’m never going to get it’ switch over into that gray area,” said Olp. “I’ve seen on these, we’ll have some where there are repeat attendees — and it could be for several reasons, they might know someone who just got COVID and now it’s a reality to them and it sets in deeper, but that gray is a spectrum.”

It’s a time consuming method for educating the public about COVID-19 vaccines, but they believe it’s working.

Both Rabinowitz and Olp said they’ve had people tell them after presentations that they’ve changed their mind about getting the vaccine and will make an appointment.

“It’s not infrequent,” said Rabinowitz. “So I think just having that information sharing and then just letting people know, like, there’s no bad question and that your concerns are valid because they’re your concerns, I think that just helps kind of break down that communication where people feel, you know, comfortable enough to ask those questions.”

Olp initially joined the effort to spread awareness about vaccines by having conversations on her own and through the Alaska Black Caucus. Meanwhile, the state first started the presentations to educate those in assisted care facilities.

Next, they hope to focus on faith-based communities and groups in regions where vaccination rates are slower.

“We have a variety of clinicians and so if they have a specific question or subsets of questions, we can make sure we get more of that subject matter expert on there. So if they’re really concerned with things like pregnancy and lactation, we can have someone who can speak on that more, if they’re wanting this from the experience of a person of color, we can kind of ensure that, and be that confidence,” said Olp. “We’ve got this variety because we know, with this, it’s really important to see someone who represents you and your thoughts for your comfortability.”

The online form to request a presentation asks for contact information from the requestor, information about the group, scheduling and language preferences and the following additional questions:

  • What’s known about the information this audience desires? What goals do you hope the presentation will help to achieve?
  • Describe any additional support needed (Is this an existing virtual meeting we will join, or do you need support setting up a virtual meeting? Do you need support promoting the presentation?)

Once a group requests a presentation, Rabinowitz said they make an effort to schedule one within the same week.

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