Groton in Action: Volunteers Aim to Reduce Barriers to Vaccine

About 50 volunteers will be knocking on doors this weekend in Groton. Their goal is to have conversations with people about the COVID-19 vaccine.

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As vaccine supply starts to outpace demand in Connecticut, a group of Groton volunteers is working to increase outreach efforts.

About 50 community members will be going door-to-door in two Groton neighborhoods this weekend. Their goal is to help residents get information about the COVID-19 vaccines and help anyone who wants to find an appointment. The group is called Groton in Action and is led by members of the Groton Public Schools Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee.

“This is a choice they can make, but we want them to have an informed choice. We also want to identify any barriers or obstacles, challenges that these families may have," said Jemal Davis, assistant principal at Groton Middle School and leader of the DEI committee.

Davis said the committee first started discussing vaccine equity when they realized some parents were choosing to keep their children in distance learning because their family members had not been able to get the vaccine yet.

In response, Groton schools teamed up with other community partners to form Groton in Action. This weekend, April 24 and 25, they will be knocking on every door in the Branford Manor and Poquonnock Plains neighborhoods.

“We are going to touch beyond those families that have children in Groton Public Schools," said Davis.

The volunteers will survey people with questions like: What might prevent you from getting the vaccine? Is transportation a barrier?

“And then we want to know -- if those challenges are eliminated, would they be interested in getting vaccinated?” said Davis.

Kathleen Wilson is on the DEI committee. She is also an educator and will be volunteering this weekend.

"Because everyone needs access to this vaccine. And if they choose not to that’s their choice, but it shouldn’t be because the system doesn’t allow them to have it," said Wilson. "We want to make sure they have the access that they deserve."

Princess Anne Victorino lives in one of the neighborhoods where the volunteers will be working. She is still on the fence about getting the vaccine.

"It would help me a lot if someone would just explain to me the benefits of getting it," said Victorino.

Ledge Light Health District said it is important for trusted community voices, like Groton Schools staff, to do this kind of outreach. The health district has similar plans in the works.

“I believe a lot of the work that needs to be done is around bringing the vaccine to people," said Jennifer Muggeo, deputy director of Ledge Light Health District. "We are going to be learning from our community members, listening to our community members, connecting with our community members and hope to get as many people vaccinated as possible."

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story said the volunteers would ask if people have already been vaccinated. The volunteers are not specifically asking that as they go door to door.

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