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Lessons in Vaccinating Youth: Trusted, Local Groups Are Key

In Pasadena, California, almost 90% of eligible residents in the community are vaccinated against COVID-19, a resounding success compared to the 72.5% rate of vaccinations statewide. Day One, a local nonprofit community-based organization supported by PHI’s Together Toward Health initiative, has been a foundation of the area’s success in addressing the COVID pandemic. 

In 2021, the Day One team knew they would need to be creative in reimagining how they would continue supporting youth and families during the pandemic. Day One was already an integral part of the Pasadena community for more than 30 years and were experts in outreach. They knew there would be a lot of work to do to keep local kids safe and informed.

Christy Zamani
We recognized early on that kids in the community really craved a sense of normalcy, so we hosted a whole roster of outdoor events that were fun and engaging.

Christy Zamani, executive director, Day One

Some of the many strategies the Day One team used for success in reaching and vaccinating as many youth as possible included:

Making it Fun

a poster for a costume day showing a man in an astronaut costume riding a bicycleFrom costumed bike rides to meditation sessions to beach parties, Day One kept a packed calendar of events which helped get kids out of the house, improving physical and mental health. These events also doubled as safe spaces to get information about COVID-19, vaccinations, and to talk about their concerns.

Incentives They Need

Day One found that by providing incentives they could get more participants to vaccination and other events. Day One’s community health workers connected low-income families with free bicycles and free bike repairs, so they knew they could appeal to Pasadena’s love of pedaling in order to help get the word out about COVID-19 safety. Day One set up distribution stations for bike lights and bike helmets at 42 pop-up stands at community events, laundromats and grocery stores around the city to draw over 1,500 people in and share information about vaccinations.

Meeting People Where They Are

Day One brought vaccine clinics directly to the places youth were spending time, making it as easy as possible for young people to get vaccinated. Partnering with schools, Day One hosted pop-up vaccine clinics for students at junior colleges and other campuses. For busy families, they hosted a popular drive-through vaccination event with coffee and doughnuts.. And for Halloween, they hosted a free vaccine clinic for younger kids and families at the city’s Trunk or Treat event, where organizations decked out their car trunks out in Halloween decorations and gave out candy.

Using the Right Messengers

Day One knew that youth and students need to hear from their peers, so they showcased the real stories of their Youth Advocates and other students at various schools through social media videos. Another social media success was a local community photo shoot, where they invited key leaders, including local church pastors, nonprofit leaders, day laborers, restaurant workers, business owners, elected officials and everyday residents to represent their #VaccinatePasadena and #CrushCovid campaign. They shared social media posts developed from the photos with their 30-50 community partners, including Pasadena’s Public Health Department, so these images spread across the city.

Learn more about Day One’s work on the Together Toward Health website.

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