The U.S. Department of Health is rolling out its “We Can Do This” COVID-19 education campaign ahead of the school year, hoping to increase childhood immunization rates by educating parents in trusted spaces, and the library becomes a critical place in the effort.
Dr. Cameron Webb, senior adviser to the White House COVID-19 team, was a special guest for Thursday’s story time at the Hyattsville Library. He shared more than a book with the families.
“Back to school is right around the corner, so we want families, we want everyone to have their best protection,” he said.
As vaccination rates for children 6 months to 5 years old are the lowest of any age group at 3% vaccinated, Webb hopes parents will step up before toddlers return to school and daycare.
“We want to make sure everyone has this protection against COVID-19, but it comes at a time when a lot of people are processing their view of the pandemic differently.
In Hyattsville, one of the most diverse communities in Prince George’s County, it was clear from the start that the approach to accessing the vaccine had to be different.
“We were the hardest hit community in the region, but we were the last to receive tests and the last to receive vaccines,” said Deni Taveras, a member of the Prince George’s County Council.
County libraries have stepped in to help improve access.
“We would get a phone call and a customer would say, ‘I’m an undocumented immigrant. I have trouble getting to the vaccination clinic. They tell me I can’t get vaccinated,” said acting co-CEO of the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, Nicholas A. Brown. “And we were telling them exactly what to say. Speak on the phone with the vaccine supplier to clarify policies. And it’s this level of connection between the library and the family that has helped people access these resources very quickly. »
Thursday’s clinic recalled how libraries have pivoted, becoming more than just a place to check out books.
“They have such a beautiful space for kids, so I think it’s really great that they’ve linked these two together to bring the vaccine to the community while also hosting kids’ events here,” the mother said. Jillian Campbell.
Parents said they are adjusting to the new reality and the back-to-school roster is changing.
“School starts September 22 or August 22, and he has to get his shot, so we’re really, really happy he’s being offered here,” his mother Grace Burrell said.
This was only a one-day clinic, but the public library is open to share information on where to find other clinics like this by calling local branches during library hours.
The American Library Association is working alongside the US Department of Health and Human Services to launch similar campaigns across the country.