Karna at APHA Series: Coordinating Efforts to Address COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation (Part III)

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By Nikki Weinstein, MSW, Evaluation Specialist IV

The American Public Health Association’s annual meeting is the premier public health event of the year. Professionals from around the world come together to learn from each other, network, and collaborate. This year, several Karna teams were invited to present their contributions to COVID-19 vaccine confidence and capacity-building efforts. #APHA2023

The Rapid Community Assessment (RCA) approach was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the pandemic to quickly assess community challenges and potential strategies to address low COVID-19 vaccine confidence and uptake.

The five steps to the process are:

  1. Prepare: Identifying objectives and specific communities and making sure the appropriate approvals are in place to proceed.
  2. Plan: Putting all the pieces in place by becoming familiar with the community, getting buy-in from local stakeholders, and figuring out methods and data collection tools.
  3. Collect and Analyze Data: Recruiting participants, gathering data, and identifying themes.
  4. Identify Solutions and Report Findings: Sharing information and working with the community to interpret findings into actionable strategies.
  5. Evaluate your Efforts: Asking if objectives were met, what new information was learned, and what information is still needed.

With Karna’s support, the CDC created the COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence Rapid Community Assessment Guide with tools to help communities perform all of these steps. Information, checklists, and tools (including editable worksheets and sample discussion guides) are provided throughout the guide to make it easy to follow and implement the process.

Karna also supported the CDC’s virtual technical assistance model to health departments supporting their RCA planning efforts. This included a limited number of on-site CDC team deployments to assist with data collection. CDC evaluated these deployments which informed future adaptations of the process.

In early 2023, CDC’s Global Immunization Division sought to adapt the RCA guide to a global context. At the same time, CDC’s domestic Immunization Services Division was considering broadening the guide to be inclusive of all immunizations. Karna helped bring this together and led the revisions for an updated second edition of the Rapid Community Assessment Guide. This updated guide integrates lessons learned from the field, including the CDC deployments, and encourages applying the assessment model any time more information is needed from the community about any vaccine challenge. Additionally, the updated guide uses languages and imagery that appeal to communities across the globe.

For the 2023 American Public Health Association annual meeting, Karna organized and moderated a panel session to encourage broader use of the RCA process and the guide. In addition to talks on the process and the evaluation, the session highlighted two case study examples of RCA implementation; one from the Connecticut Health Department’s effort to infuse the method across the state starting with two pilot communities, and one from San Mateo County in California that engaged youth in the work and featured a technology-based approach.

Karna continues to support the CDC’s technical assistance efforts to states and jurisdictions working to learn more about their community to address vaccine confidence and uptake challenges.

Pictured: Moderator and Presenter, Nikki Weinstein (Karna) discussing the RCA process.

Presenters (L to R): Deepa Mavani (CT Dept of Public Health), Jami Fraze (CDC), Richard Quartarone (CDC), and Aparna Ramakrishna (Devi Partners).

This is the third and final installment of our Karna at APHA series, click here to read more about Karna’s client solutions presented at #APHA2023

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