Health department planning vaccination block parties to reach herd immunity

Melba Moore
Posted at 8:43 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 08:18:08-04

CINCINNATI — To reach the desired herd immunity within Cincinnati communities, the Cincinnati Health Department is trying a new angle to encourage people to get their COVID-19 shot.

The health department has been pounding social media with cartoon videos encouraging masking and safe social distancing, and the department plans to throw neighborhood block parties wherever COVID-19 vaccination rates are lowest in the city.

"At the block parties you'll hear music," said Melba Moore, Cincinnati Health Commissioner. "There's going to be food. And you get your vax, get something to eat. So you put those incentives there, and then let's see who we get."

Vaccination hesitancy has played a major factor in communities, making it difficult to achieve herd immunity for the greater populace -- something that did not get better after the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

"It's a lot of people that's scared to do it," said Dorinda Jones, who received a vaccine but said she sees plenty of hesitation in the community. "So it's like person-to-person thoughts on that. I can't explain."

Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum, UC College of Medicine professor of infectious disease, said more public messaging and word-of-mouth attention is needed in the fight to get more people vaccinated.

Moore said she believes potential patients need more options and incentives. This has spurred her staff to take the vaccines directly into neighborhoods through mobile units. They also plan to park and offer vaccines for FC Cincinnati's opening day on Sunday at the new TQL Stadium.

"When they come out, let it be something that helps you think about what it really would be like if we were not in this pandemic," said Moore. "So that's why we're going to have block parties."

Moore said the fight is happening one day at a time, and the health department will continue to try new ways to reach local communities.