Drive for 75 - Week 35

Regulation | November 05, 2021 | by Jill Schumann

LeadingAge Coronavirus Update Calls feature brief segments called “Drive for 75” to promote the successful vaccination of our aging services providers’ workforce, and as needed, residents. We will cover developments in the news, research, and innovative practices that support our members in attaining high vaccination rates.

This Week’s Highlights:

Volume Seventy Eight: Air Date 11.1.21. Vaccination Rates and Horoscopes

New data released by the Salt Lake County Department of Health shows some surprising, seemingly significant differences in the vaccination rates of residents across Zodiac signs. According to the data, Leos lead the pack with a 70% vaccination rate, followed by Aquariuses at 67%. Scorpios however, ranked at the bottom at just 46%, with Virgos notching slightly higher at 50%. The data scientists at the Salt Lake County Department of Health approximated how many of Salt Lake County’s 1.2 million residents belonged to each of the 12 zodiac signs by using national averages provided by Texas A&M University. They then looked at the anonymous birthdays of the roughly 680,000 people who have been vaccinated in the county to come up with the percentages, says Rupp. “Applying a national ratio to local data isn’t something that we would normally do, except for something fun like this,” he says.

Like health agencies across the world, the informatics team in Salt Lake County has been in heads-down mode, focused on the deadly serious business of analyzing infection rates, hospitalizations, and vaccine numbers. But after 18 months, they decided to get “a little silly”. Rupp said. “I told them, well that’s not going to have any value scientifically, but it’s going to have enormous value promotionally — so let’s do it.” Rupp was right: The chart has certainly gotten people talking, and just might fulfill its intended purpose of pushing more of the county’s younger residents to get vaccinated.

Volume Seventy Nine: Air Date 11.3.21.

As COVID-19 vaccination efforts have stalled leaders have implemented strategies ranging from giveaways to mandates. Some experts say that by shying away from intrinsic motivation, leaders miss an opportunity to leverage behavioral, motivational, and organizational strategies that are supported by decades of management research, so they looked at a place where vaccination has succeeded to see if those management lessons applied.

The Indian district of Raigarh, which has a population of approximately 1.6 million was able to achieve 100% first-dose vaccination of all eligible, adult citizens without financial incentives or a governmental mandate. Raigarh achieved this success despite severe resource limitations and heterogeneity in the population including geographical, ethnic, linguistic, social, and religious attributes.

Researchers found five actionable strategies learned from Raigarh which can help bolster vaccination rates in a variety of settings.

  1. Target a Broad and Diverse Set of Local Leaders

Local leaders carry the trust of their respective communities. Recruiting local leaders across the spectrum of political, communal, social, and religious strata was instrumental in influencing the diverse groups.

  1. Confront Information Asymmetry

The consistency and relatability of the message about vaccination are important. A clear message presented through an influential leader crafts a powerful narrative that can overcome alternative sources of (often incorrect) information. Stories of peers' successful experience can help dispel common vaccine misinformation and enhance individuals' motivation to learn more about that experience (consistent with research on the motivating effects of exceptional success). Transparency and public confidence are also important.

  1. Motivate Through Celebration

Echoing research on the importance of recognizing "small wins," the vaccination team made it a rule to celebrate early successes throughout the vaccination effort. Celebrating the first 10% of vaccinators was seen as much more crucial than lamenting the non-vaccinators. To celebrate community milestones, the team deployed "gamification" strategies which have been increasingly used to motivate health behaviors.

  1. Focus on Convenience

The team focused on simplicity and convenience and customized service hours to the needs of the target community. They located vaccination sites close to peoples' place of work or residence.

  1. Utilize Robust Monitoring and Rapid Course Correction

Finally, the Raigarh team focused on continually measuring and monitoring progress to make rapid adjustments if their efforts were not working as planned. Monitoring local-level data allowed the team to maintain awareness of frontline challenges and allocate resources on the fly, in a way not unlike the Lean philosophy that emphasizes that problems should be resolved at the lowest level and close to when and where they arise.

While some of these strategies have been used in the U.S., there has been considerable variability and inconsistency in the way they are used, which could be contributing to ongoing vaccination challenges. Though these five strategies are not a sure route to vaccination success -- and there is certainly an important role for tools like the vaccine mandates being implemented in some places, the Raigarh success story highlights the power of basic behavioral and motivational strategies in achieving success in vaccinating the population against COVID-19.