The Texas Vaccine Equity Sprint
SUMMARY – People with serious mental illness (SMI) are at high risk of dying from COVID-19. To help educate this population about vaccinations and opportunities to get vaccinated, the Meadows Institute engaged community organizations in a program to identify effective strategies for outreach and developed a statewide media campaign.
Vaccine Equity Sprint teams
Texas counties represented by Sprint teams
estimated youths & adults with SMI served by Sprint teams
Media Impressions from statewide awareness campaign
In response to public health research demonstrating that people with serious mental illness were at high risk of COVID-19, the Meadows Institute secured a grant from Texas A&M University Health Science Center, the Department of Health and Human Services – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Texas Department of Health Services and launched the Texas Vaccine Equity Sprint (Sprint). This 11-week program was designed to increase understanding of the risks associated with SMI and engage communities across Texas in the development and implementation of strategies for educating the SMI population about the COVID-19 vaccination.
Seven Sprint teams, consisting of local mental health authorities, public health agencies, and community-based organizations, with an estimated 138,000 youths and adults with SMI in their collective service areas, were involved in the project.
The teams set specific goals, identified target populations and tested approaches to increase vaccination rates. Teams met weekly, sharing challenges and learnings with their peers. Strategic approaches included engaging trusted messengers, testing and refining messaging, and strengthening community relationships.
We’re in this COVID struggle together [and] it was beneficial to realize that education and supply issues are not unique to us. – Vaccine Equity Sprint Team Member
To promote vaccination opportunities and education, the Meadows Institute team partnered with a national media outlet to launch a state-wide media awareness campaign targeting those with SMI and their communities. With guidance from the Sprint teams, the media outlet produced statewide and regional campaigns that ran in every Texas zip code, generating over 60 million media impressions.
As a result of the Sprint, strategies were developed to increase vaccination rates for individuals with SMI throughout Texas. To support other organizations seeking to increase vaccination rates among individuals with SMI, a summary of these strategies and other learnings from the project are published online and available as a downloadable toolkit, along with printable materials for raising awareness. The free toolkit and materials are available at https://vaccinetoolkit.org.
There Are Still Too Many Barriers to Mental Health Care
Maybe you can only imagine the scenario, or perhaps you’ve experienced it. At night in bed, you hope sleep will obliterate the despairing emptiness that’s been looming all day. Or that you’ll finally escape the disembodied whispers saying no one loves you and you don’t deserve to live.
After COVID, Midland Health looks to the future
With dramatically lower numbers of acute and convalescing COVID-19 patients in the hospital, and large-scale testing and vaccination efforts behind us, Midland Health can focus on the future of health care in Midland for the first time in more than a year. While we have a wide variety of projects underway, three major initiatives will do the most to shape our future.
Why is the CDC missing in action on severe mental illnesses?
n October, the CDC updated its list of medical conditions that contribute to worse outcomes with Covid-19 infection. It’s an essential list, used for prioritizing testing, treatment, and vaccination. For the first time it includes “certain mental health conditions.”