Special Populations

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Since the COVID-19 Pandemic began, in early 2020, marginalized and vulnerable populations have been especially, adversely, impacted. NASW’s Connect to End COVID-19 initiative was launched to provide equitable training and outreach that promote informed vaccine decision-making on the part of social workers and their clients, particularly among those who are vulnerable, marginalized, and/or vaccine hesitant.

Connect to End COVID-19: Role of NASW and Its Chapters

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines vaccine confidence as the belief that vaccines work, are safe, and are part of a trustworthy medical system. NASW and its Chapters are working to increase vaccine confidence and vaccine uptake through training, communications, and outreach strategies that include, but are not limited to:

  • offering complimentary NASW National webinars and CEUs;
  • offering complimentary NASW Chapter-based trainings and CEUs on Motivational interviewing (MI) and Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Therapy (SBIRT) that promote informed vaccine decision-making on the part of social workers and their clients;
  • organizing and collaborating with local community vaccine ambassadors; and,
  • partnering with local agency/organization for social workers to attend national webinars and chapter workshop training program.

Special Populations: Barriers and Solutions

  1. Persons Experiencing Homelessness
    Barrier: access to vaccine in traditional setting (clinic, pharmacy).
    Potential Solution: vaccine education and drive at shelters, day programs, food service locations or encampments.
  2. Persons with Disabilities
    Barrier: online appointment scheduling and care site navigation.
    Potential Solution: collaboration with Area Agencies on Aging, Meals on Wheels, etc.
  3. Incarcerated, Detained, and Justice-Involved Individuals
    Barrier: congregative living settings.
    Potential Solution: prioritization by state to provide COVID-19 vaccine to prisons and jails.
  4. Immigrants
    Barrier: language/literacy challenges, limited transportation, fear of immigration-related consequences.
    Potential Solution: language specific outreach, walk-in testing sites.
  5. Minority Populations
    Barrier: racism, distrust of medical system.
    Potential Solution: trusted champion; partnering with YMCA, barbershops, salons, local nonprofit; and, mixed media messaging.

NASW Resources:

CDC Resources:

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CDC Vaccination Information

Stay up to date with the latest COVID-19 vaccination information by visiting the CDC website.

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CDC GISVaxView: Geospatial Vaccination Information

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Vaccine Education with "Connect to End COVID-19"

Tune in to NASW Social Work Talks podcasts on Vaccine Education with “Connect to End COVID-19” and How to Reach Special Populations with Motivational Interviewing.

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NASW COVID-19 Resources

Social workers support informed decision making about important healthcare choices, provide health information from credible sources, and address mental and behavioral health concerns arising as a result of this public health crisis.

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