Hartford began their work by identifying the core vaccine hesitancies of priority populations to ensure that all media campaigns, community clinics, and other outreach directly addressed the needs of their populations. The Latino Way, a local communications firm, hosted seven focus groups in English and Spanish with members of the community to assess attitudes and gain understanding around their hesitancies. Using takeaways from these groups, Hartford formed a communications campaign that is specifically relevant to Black and Latino residents, addressing their concerns and biases.
They also launched their media campaign, which includes radio ads on the two most popular stations, videos and graphics to be shared on social media, and printed posters and flyers to be placed in public places and distributed by community partners. All communications are in both English and Spanish, and feature members of the community, including teachers, firefighters, nurses, and business owners. They are creating a website which will showcase where Hartford residents can go to get the flu shot and also combat common misinformation about vaccines.
Their partnerships with a variety of community-based organizations have provided access to key segments of the population by serving as trusted liaisons and expanded the reach of their media campaign. Community organizations such as Ministerial Health Fellowship, Family Life Education, and The Salvation Army have agreed to host temporary clinics for their constituencies, creating new opportunities for Hartford residents to be vaccinated in a safe community space. Local federally qualified health centers Charter Oak Health Center and Wheeler Clinic, both of whom were cited during focus groups as primary locations the community visits for healthcare, are hosting and advertising special weekend flu clinics for the community as well. These community partners will also share Hartford’s vaccination education campaign through their social media channels and distribute the printed materials to their constituencies where appropriate.
They are also currently working on building a training opportunity for community-facing staff and medical professionals at The Village for Families and Children and the City of Hartford’s DHHS frontline staff to increase their comfort with the flu vaccine and improve their ability to recommend the vaccine to others.
The biggest challenge they have encountered is time, as it has been challenging to build a truly comprehensive campaign in the midst of flu season without rushing the process or the messaging. As for successes, they report that their focus groups were very insightful. Hearing directly from their priority population allowed them to create content they could be sure spoke to their needs. They also have incredible partners who are well trusted by the community and have done great work.
A fun fact about their city is that Hartford is home to the Mark Twain House where the author raised his family and wrote his most famous works, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.