Portage County vaccine literacy program
By Olivia De Valk
PORTAGE COUNTY – A vaccine literacy program run by the Portage County Literacy Council aims to make COVID vaccines more accessible to all community members, including non-English speakers.
The Institute of Medicine defines health literacy as the degree to which individuals can find, understand, and use information about medical and other health-related decisions.
Vaccine Outreach Coordinator, Kristina Fullerton Rico is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin Madison. She has been working in this role since the mid-May and will continue through the month of August.
Fullerton’s position focuses on the COVID 19 vaccine and the need to expand accessibility for the populations that have been most heavily impacted. Her position is part of a state wide program organized by the Wisconsin Literacy Council.
Much of the outreach being done through the Portage County Literacy Council focuses on Latinx Spanish speakers. Fullerton explained that it can be difficult for people who aren’t fluent English speakers to get vaccinated.
For example, Walgreens, which is one of the biggest vaccination sites in the country, prefers that individuals sign up for vaccination appointments online. However, to sign up for a vaccine through the website, an individual must be able to read and respond to detailed questions about their medical history in English.
But health literacy doesn’t only affect people with limited English. According to a study cited by the Wisconsin Literacy Council, only 12 percent of Americans are proficient in health literacy.
As a key part of her position, Fullerton distributes materials and does outreach to help ensure that everyone who wants a vaccine, or is curious about the vaccine is able to access to one.
Fullerton said that in general people are, “surprised and much more eager to get vaccinated after talking with me or someone else who can tell them how accessible and free they are – and spend some time talking about the side effects and how those are normal.”
The Wisconsin Literacy Council is tracking the number of people being reached through positions like Fullerton’s.
As she helps community members get vaccinated, Fullerton also talks through myths and concerns about vaccines.
“Most people have some questions and doubts because it is such a hot topic and such a big health decision,” Fullerton said. “It’s good to ask people – hey do you have any concerns or what questions do you have about the vaccine. Even people who are not very hesitant they might still have some questions.”
For questions about vaccines or how to get a vaccination, contact the Vaccine Outreach Coordinator at 715-256-7735 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Portage County Literacy Council visit www.pocolit.org.
Las vacunas contra el COVID -19 son seguras, gratis para todos, y están disponibles en muchos lugares aquí en Portage County. ¿Tienes alguna duda? ¿Quieres saber más? ¿Necesitas ayuda para vacunarte? Ponte en contacto con Kristina Fullerton Rico, Promotora de Salud en Portage County Literacy Council al (715) 256-7735 o email@example.com. Hablo español, y estoy a tus órdenes. También te puedo ayudar a conseguir transporte gratis a tu cita de vacunación.