Resources to support your vaccination and booster efforts
Throughout the pandemic, the aging and disability networks have been at the forefront of efforts to protect the health of older adults and people with disabilities. While continuing to provide the services that make it possible for many to live safely in the community, our networks also have played a critical role in getting people vaccinated. They are now a driving force in the effort to get people boosters.
Across the country, the aging and disability networks are using creative approaches to provide information, facilitate vaccination appointments and in-home options for people who need them, ensure accessibility of websites and vaccination sites, provide supports to help people overcome barriers to getting vaccinated, and reach people who are hard to reach. These strategies are helping states and communities ensure that older adults and people with disabilities get boosted quickly.
We're building this page with promising models, case studies, and resources to help our networks -- and states, communities, and anyone else who is working to help older adults and people with disabilities get their COVID-19 vaccine boosters as soon as possible -- find and share ideas, strategies and solutions.
We'll keep adding to this page, so check back often -- and please send us information about your booster efforts, new resources, or anything else that could help colleagues across the network.
How the aging and disability networks are connecting people to vaccine boosters
- Baltimore County Dept. of Aging Vaccine Clinic: Older adults share why they are getting an updated COVID vaccine
Older adults and people with disabilities face the greatest risks from COVID-19 and flu. Staying up to date on vaccines is the most powerful thing we can do to protect ourselves – that means getting your updated (bivalent) COVID-19 vaccine and this year’s flu shot – and you can get them at the same time.
On December 1, 2022, Acting Assistant Secretary for Aging and ACL Administrator Alison Barkoff visited Baltimore County Department of Aging’s Liberty Senior Center and their vaccine clinic to hear from older adults about why they’re getting their updated COVID-19 shots. Watch a video from the visit.
- Partnering with Departments of Public Health
Many aging and disability organizations have partnered with state and/or local public health departments to coordinate vaccinations.
In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma City-County Health Department assembled a team in coordination with the local ADRC to vaccinate individuals and their family caregivers within the home. The team provides at-home vaccinations to individuals referred by the ADRC coordinator, preventing waitlists and delays for these individuals.
The Ocean County, New Jersey AAA information and assistance staff have access to their county health department's on-line appointment calendar and are able to make appointments for seniors interested in getting the booster shot. The unit also coordinates transportation to and from the appointment through the county's transportation provider.
- Marshalling Mobile Vaccine Access
The examples below demonstrate how states can mobilize to offer the vaccine booster in places where people go naturally.
- Leveraging home-delivered meal partnerships: In collaboration with their health department, Illinois is inserting flyers on boosters vs. third doses information with home-delivered meals. This flyer is available in multiple languages. In addition to asking all home-delivered meal providers to insert the flyer with meals, they also posted to social media and encouraged providers to do the same.
- Developing and strengthening partnerships with home health agencies: The Utah ADRC finalized an agreement with a home health agency to reach individuals in the home. Nurses provide individuals and caregivers with COVID-19 vaccine and booster education, assistance setting an appointment, and address any transportation needs. The agreement will streamline the process with a consistent message and the ADRC will receive data that is currently not collected. The pilot starts with 100 individuals and their caregivers and has the bandwidth to expand into the thousands.
- Coordinating in-home vaccinations: Over one third of states/territories also reported assistance with coordination of in-home vaccinations. Many of those states are also coordinating the booster in a home setting. See Ohio’s playbook for setting up an in-home vaccination initiative. Additionally, the National Council on Aging has developed a resource on getting the COVID vaccine and booster to homebound older adults.
- Combining booster clinics with other programs: For example, the East of the River Friendship Cafe (Kenilworth), a congregate meals site at a multi-generational recreation center in Washington, D.C., offered a booster clinic during their 2021 holiday party.
ACL Principal Deputy Administrator Alison Barkoff and CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure joined the event to talk with older adults about COVID-19 vaccine boosters. Many of the people they spoke with already had gotten their boosters, and more than 25 others were scheduled to get theirs that day. A few of them agreed to help us spread the word about the importance and urgency of boosters. In this video, you can hear from them directly about why they got boosted — and why everyone should.
(You can see more about the event in this video. Many, many thanks to the D.C. Department of Aging and Community Living and the EOTR Friendship Cafe for hosting us!)
- Developing a Multi-Pronged Booster Campaign with Key Partners
Another strategy includes developing specific campaigns to promote the booster like the one from Oregon described below.
The Oregon No Wrong Door System launched the "Booster Vaccine Initiative" in November 2021. The goal of the initiative is to provide direct access and remove barriers to vaccines for older adults and adults with disabilities. They will hold two drive-thru events at trusted locations. In addition, they will promote education and awareness about the booster, provide access to transportation and coordinate in-home delivery of the vaccine and booster as needed. They are collaborating with numerous community and public partners to reach as many people as possible including the Oregon Health Authority, Josephine County Public Health, City of Central Point, Family Nurturing Center, UNETE (Center for Farm Worker and Immigrant Advocacy), Mercy Flights and American Medical Response. Partnering with community-based organizations that serve under-represented and vulnerable populations is a priority for this initiative.
In Massachusetts, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center developed an initiative called VaxAbilities to ensure that people with developmental disabilities and other sensory support needs have the most comfortable and positive vaccination experience possible. Training, personnel, and material resources were provided to state-sponsored vaccine events across the Commonwealth. Although the timing of these events aligned with the approval of pediatric vaccines for ages 5-11 years, the Shriver Center has also offered adult initial and booster vaccinations. This effort has been led by the Shriver Center, in collaboration with the other partners of the Massachusetts DD Network, including the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston, the Disability Law Center, and the Massachusetts DD Council.
- Increasing Rural Outreach for Boosters
Using creative strategies to reach rural communities is a consistent focus for aging and disability networks supporting vaccine outreach. Montana is leveraging friends, family, and faith-based leaders in rural areas to promote vaccinations. Louisiana has partnered with faith-based leaders in rural areas to initiate a door knocking campaign. America Samoa has worked with a local college in a rural area to develop a policy around paid leave for employees who are parents or caregivers to help enable them to take their family member to get vaccinated. Kansas has promoted extended or after-hour vaccination appointments for people who work sun-up to sun-down on farms. These innovations can be repeated for booster access and outreach.
Oregon developed a new relationship with UNETE (Center for Farm Worker and Immigrant Advocacy) to reduce transportation barriers for the Latinx community and encourage intergenerational booster vaccine events where entire families and households living with older adults and adults with disabilities can be vaccinated together, at the same time. Vaccine events are coordinated to meet specific populations at comfortable and familiar locations such as La Placita in southwest Medford.
- Finding Hard to Reach Populations
A key challenge to vaccine access is finding people who need support to access vaccines and boosters. A few states have demonstrated creative ideas finding and reaching populations who may have low access to vaccinations.
A CIL in South Carolina, Able South Carolina, launched the SC Disability Vaccine Access Network. The SC Disability Vaccine Access Network is operated by Able South Carolina, Disability Rights South Carolina, South Carolina Developmental Disabilities Council, and the University of South Carolina’s Center for Disabilities Resources within the School of Medicine. They have prioritized health equity with a focus on black older adults and multiply-marginalized people with disabilities. Per capita, South Carolina has a larger population of both people with disabilities and black people with disabilities compared to the national average.
Santa Clara County California is partnering with the County Executive Office to deploy multilingual community worker to sign people up for boosters and offer transportation services if people are unable to get their appointments. A few sites also offer pop-up vaccination sites. They are well equipped to support dissemination on booster information.
In Oregon, the “My Vaccination Reason” campaign is an additional part of the booster initiative mentioned above and features PSAs that air on a local television station during key time slots. The PSAs are also shared on their website, social media, and YouTube channel. The campaign features older adult influencers from rural and Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) communities across Jackson County and Josephine County sharing the personal reason why they chose to take the vaccine or booster. One PSA will be bilingual and feature a speaker in Spanish with English subtitles as well as speakers in English with Spanish subtitles.
The most recent PSA is airing in December in an effort to encourage booster vaccinations prior to major indoor holiday gatherings.
Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH), Philly Counts, and the Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities has teamed up with ACL's aging and disability networks to develop targeted vaccine education and outreach, host accessible clinics, and use culturally affirmative and linguistically accessible public health strategies.
Using a CDC Immunization Grant, Philadelphia hired diverse group of 33 staff and 50 paid canvassers to phone bank, text bank, and canvass BIPOC neighborhoods. Over 7 weeks, volunteers and canvassers knocked on 40,000 doors and talked to almost 5,000 residents about COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters.
When Philly Counts phone bankers and canvassers identify older adults and people with disabilities in need of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters in the home, they share information about PDPH’s homebound vaccine program. In-home vaccine providers make house calls equipped with PDPH’s Homebound Vaccine Provider Toolkit, which includes information about ACL’s aging and disability networks.
In partnership with the Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities, supported by the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), PDPH has formed the Disability Health committee to gather input and feedback from the community on priority areas and discuss PDPH activities through a disability lens. MOPD and PDPH host Disability Health Forums every two months to address priority areas and disability-relevant information regarding COVID. Forum invites are sent to disability organizations to spread to their stakeholders. A recent event can be found here.
In an effort to reach more aging and disability communities, PDPH is meeting with managed care organizations about how to disseminate homebound/booster information. PDPH has hosted mobile information desks at senior centers and events at faith-based organizations to promote boosters and COVID-19 vaccination among older adults.
- Leveraging Partnerships with Housing
Housing sites for older adults and individuals with disabilities remain a key point of access to the booster. While many examples exist related to vaccination, these same partnerships can be used to advance booster access.
An ADRC in Massachusetts coordinated four vaccination clinics serving the Haitian community in January and February of 2021 at senior housing sites. The events were promoted by the housing sites, but people from the surrounding neighborhood attended as well. The clinics were staffed by an Options Counselor from the ADRC fluent in Haitian Creole, as well as volunteers, including a receptionist who happens to speak Haitian Creole, and a local high school student.
In California, an aging services nutrition and housing organization (Serving Seniors) held two vaccination clinics on site for residents. Building on their successful partnership, they have already held eight booster clinics – two at a Wellness Center and six at three housing sites. They partnered with local PACE programs and with the fire department. They conducted outreach across all sites/programs to promote the booster. If there were extra boosters at any of the clinics, they offered these to staff and were able to eliminate any waste.
- Engaging in Public Outreach
Many states engaged in public outreach campaigns and now are adapting those to address booster outreach. For example:
- Rhode Island has initiated a marketing and media campaign on boosters and New York created a public service announcement (PSA) to increase booster rates for adults over 65.
- In Texas, two ADRCs partnered with the Alamo Area Council of Governments to produce vaccine related PSAs estimated to have reached 1.7 million people. Univision, Spectrum, AT&T, Grande Communication, and Direct TV shared the PSAs.
The HHS We Can Do This Campaign has a booster toolkit for community messaging including new materials you can use to educate about who is eligible for a booster (all adults!) and when they are eligible. Additional resources from ACL can be found below.
- Altering Call Protocols
President Biden’s winter plan includes a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) letter to all Medicare beneficiaries on the importance of the booster shot. In addition, when people call 1-800-Medicare, they will be provided information about vaccine boosters. States can alter State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) call protocols to ask all callers if they need assistance accessing the booster shot. All aging and disability networks can do the same. Some ADRCs (Delaware, Maryland, South Dakota) are altering call protocols to ask all callers if they need help scheduling or getting transportation to vaccine appointments.
The Delaware ADRC has acted as a conduit to support people with disabilities and those needing accommodations to vaccine sites. Once a person reaches out to the Public Health COVID Vaccination Hotline (operated by 211) requesting accommodations, the caller is warm transferred to the ADRC, where specially trained staff works with the individual to set up the vaccine appointment and requested accommodation. ADRC staff were trained by different community partners, including the Community Legal Aid Society Inc., Disability Law Program, and the University of Delaware Center for Disabilities Studies (the state UCEDD), on a variety of topics related to accommodations and access. They are now building on their successes by connecting individuals with the booster shot.
- Leveraging Wellness Calls and Connections to Senior Centers
Many aging and disability organizations initiated a wellness call program as part of an initial COVID-19 response to ensure older adults and individuals with disabilities had access to basic needs, obtained needed social connection, and gained access to the vaccine. These programs can be leveraged to ensure access to the booster.
For example, in New Mexico, aging network providers continue to make wellness calls to older adults and adults with disabilities to determine if they need assistance registering for the vaccine or booster. Providers have access to the health department portal to directly register and/or schedule older adults for vaccinations and the booster. They worked with vaccination sites at senior centers to develop a schedule based on when people are due for a booster and strategically coordinated with program providers in areas with low vaccination rates and with booster availability.
Spread the word - resources you can share
- In their own words: Older adults share why they got boosted -- and why everyone should. On Dec. 17, 2021, ACL Principal Deputy Administrator Alison Barkoff and CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure joined a combined holiday party and booster clinic at the East of the River Friendship Cafe (Kenilworth) in Washington, D.C. to talk with older adults about COVID-19 vaccine boosters. Many of the people they spoke with already had gotten their boosters, and more than 25 others were scheduled to get theirs that day. A few of them agreed to help us spread the word about the importance and urgency of boosters. In these videos, you can hear from them directly about why they got boosted — and why everyone should.
30-minute video (Dec. 14, 2021): ACL Principal Deputy Administrator interviews Surgeon General Vivek Murthy about the importance and urgency of getting COVID-19 vaccine boosters, particularly for older adults and people with disabilities. Vice Adm. Murthy answers:
- When to get your booster
- What else we can do to increase immunity
- Options for “mix and match” of vaccine types
- What we know about vaccines and the omicron variant
- And more
8x10 flyer (Dec. 16, 2021): to share with people with disabilities and older adults. We've created three versions:
Customizable: Includes space for your logo and information about vaccine events you may be hosting.
Letter to ACL grantees: On Dec. 16, 2021 ACL Principal Deputy Administration Alison Barkoff wrote a letter to ACL grantees about the role the disability and aging networks have played in helping people get vaccinated, and the importance of continuing this work to help people get their booster shots.
The HHS We Can Do This campaign has a booster toolkit for community messaging including new materials you can use to educate about who is eligible for a booster (all adults!) and when they are eligible.
In April 2021, we compiled some of successful strategies for making vaccines more accessible. Intended for states, communities, and public health leaders, this resource includes some of the many ways they can partner with the aging and disability networks to better serve people with disabilities and older adults.