COVID Community Corps: Interview with Yvanna Cancela – May 19, 2021

Regulation | May 19, 2021 | by Jill Schumann

Yvanna Cancela, Principal Deputy Director Office of Intergovenmental and External Affairs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, joined the May 19, 2021 LeadingAge Coronavirus Update Call.

Yvanna Cancela, Principal Deputy Director Office of Intergovenmental and External Affairs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, joined the May 19, 2021 LeadingAge Coronavirus Update Call. She responded to questions from Ruth Katz and from callers.

Q: What is the COVID Community Corps (CCC) and what is its purpose?

A: The COVID Community Corps is a network for trusted messengers who partner with us in the We Can Do This public education campaign. The goal is to get as many people as possible vaccinated, to beat the pandemic and to get back to normal. CCC is individuals and organizations committed to talking about the importance of getting the vaccine. HHS provides toolkits for those messengers.

Q: What should our members do if they want to be part of CCC and what will they need to do?

A: We would very much like for people and organizations to join us. Go to www.wecandothis.hhs.gov. There is a tab for CCC and a sign up sheet to fill out and submit. We will send programming opportunities – webinars and calls with the Surgeon General and other experts on specific vaccine-related topics. You will also receive emails with news and updates. We are also collecting stories from CCC members who share what they are doing so others can learn from their experiences.

Q: What sorts of resources do you have?

A: We have toolkits that are targeted to specific audiences such as people in rural areas and toolkits targeted to specific professions such as nurses, physicians and pharmacists. They have digestible information, posters, and ideas for promoting vaccination.

Q: From your description it sounds like there are lots of good reasons for our members to become part of CCC.

A: Yes, there are people who trust your voices and we want to equip everyone to help us get people vaccinated

Q: Do you have resources that are targeted to helping aging services encourage staff to become vaccinated?

A: I recommend looking at the toolkits for nurses, community health workers, and the general toolkits. Within the next two weeks, we will host a webinar regarding vaccinations with older populations and we will also be talking about vaccine hesitancy.

Q: I understand that you are hosting a Digital Day of Action. Please tell us about that.

A: It will be held on Friday May 21 and the intent is to get people talking about being vaccinated. We are taking the trusted messenger work online – to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, using the hash tag # Wecandothis. I would urge your callers to participate and get the word out using their social media platforms so we can really amplify voices.

Q: Our members are connected to their wider communities – what else can they do?

A: I would direct folks to the website wecandothis.hhs.gov and also vaccine.gov. We would also like feedback about what you are hearing and seeing.

Q: Do you have advice for our members working with vaccine-reluctant staff members?

A: Here is some general messaging guidance but every individual is different and the more that you know about the individual’s specific reasons for not being vaccinated the more helpful the conversation will be:

  • People are mistrusting of the vaccine and message that works best is to show empathy and emphasize that getting vaccinated is a personal choice. Over90% of doctors are vaccinated.
  • Only the vaccine will get us back to normal – it is the critical key. We want to be able to do what we have missed doing and vaccination is the way forward.
  • It is not effective to lead with the message of how safe the vaccine is. It is better is to talk about the vaccine’s effectiveness.

Q: We can do this, but really -can we do this?

A: I am confident we will get to at least a 70% vaccination rate. We are making it as easy as we can for people to get the vaccines – they are widely available. We need to get the word out about where and how people can get the vaccines and that they are available for free. It will take everyone doing their part.

Q; Do you have religious toolkits?

A: Yes, we have resources for faith leaders and for community-based organizations. Next week we are holding a faith leader boot camp for increasing vaccine confidence. There are also a variety of resources available from other organizations and the Partnership Center.

Q: Do toolkits address issues of employee privacy and related legalities?

A: We don’t have that information on our website, but it is available through other departments, so I will research and get back to you.