Influenza vaccine community outreach: Leveraging an interprofessional healthcare student workforce to immunize marginalized populations

Prev Med. 2021 Jun;147:106460. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2021.106460. Epub 2021 Feb 18.

Abstract

Vulnerable populations such as the uninsured, unemployed, and unhoused face significant morbidity and mortality from influenza but are less likely to receive the annual vaccine and have limited access to medical care. We describe an interprofessional, student-run vaccine outreach program (VOP) in Davidson County, Tennessee that lowers barriers to vaccination through free vaccination events in nontraditional community locations. We provide this framework as a model to expand novel, seasonal, or outbreak-oriented vaccine outreach to resource-poor populations. Demographic data were collected from the patients who received an influenza vaccine between 2015 and 2019 through an optional survey to determine whether these events were reaching unhoused, uninsured, and/or unemployed individuals. Of 1,803 patients, 1,733 (96.1%) completed at least one field of the demographic form. Overall, 481 (27.8%) were individuals without homes or living in temporary housing and 673 (38.8%) were unemployed. Most patients, 1,109 (64.0%), did not have health insurance at any point during the prior two years. With the addition of a nurse practitioner student to VOP leadership, the 2018-2019 VOP reached the most unhoused or temporarily-housed (228, 32.3%), unemployed (313, 18.5%), and disabled (60, 8.5%) patients. The VOP can be adapted to meet community needs, funding, and volunteer interest. The VOP model may be applicable to a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, especially since the economic impact of COVID-19 has increased unemployment rates and housing instability. Healthcare students serve as an eager, underutilized resource who can be leveraged to disseminate vaccines to individuals with limited access to care.

Keywords: Community outreach; Immunization; Influenza; Interprofessional; Preventative medicine; Student-run; Underserved communities; Vaccination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Community-Institutional Relations*
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tennessee
  • Vaccination / methods*
  • Workforce

Substances

  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Influenza Vaccines