Presentation Academy aims
to increase vaccination

A child at Smoketown Family Wellness Center in Louisville, Ky., reacts while receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Nov. 8, 2021. (CNS photo/Jon Cherry, Reuters)

Presentation Academy has begun an effort in the school and its neighborhood around South Fourth and Breckenridge streets to encourage vaccinations against COVID-19 and raise awareness about the benefits of the vaccines.

The school is one of more than two dozen organizations in Kentucky to receive a grant from the Kentucky Association of Health Plans’ “Healthy Together Through Vaccinations” community grant program. The program aims to increase vaccination “acceptance and access by empowering organizations … to pursue efforts toward improving vaccination rates through outreach, communication, education, training, transportation, and/or support,” according to a press release.

“For many months now, we have been partnering with various groups across the Commonwealth and have had a lot of success in our vaccination efforts,” said Tom Stephens, executive director of KAHP. “We applied some of what we learned in that programming to launch a broader grant initiative that we think is quite impactful because we are really leveraging local organizations who know their communities best. It’s great to see so many different populations served. We certainly aren’t letting up because vaccines are the best defense against hospitalization and death.”

Presentation received a $5,000 grant, which the school is using to provide incentives for vaccination, to provide transportation to vaccine clinics and to educate the neighborhood — where pockets of poverty are high — about vaccination.

“There’s a hesitancy among people who don’t have access to healthcare,” said Jen Carver, director of marketing and engagement at Presentation. And for people on the margins “there are barriers sometimes. We’ve figured out what the obstacles were and how to best address them.”

“We purchased Uber vouchers because some of our students and families don’t have transportation. We provided them vouchers to get to a clinic to get vaccinated,” said Carver.

She noted, “Presentation’s student body is very, very diverse. So we specifically looked for mentors in the African American and the Latina community to talk to the girls about vaccination.”

The school provided contact information for the mentors who were there “to answer their questions,” said Carver, noting it helps when the students can talk to someone they can relate to.

The school is also providing Kroger gift cards to those who get vaccinated.

Students are sharing the message with family and friends and the school is taking its messages and incentives to the broader neighborhood.

La Casita Center helped the school create educational materials about vaccination in Spanish and English to hand out and hang up. The fliers have information about where to get vaccinations at all hours of the day to help shift workers find a clinic that accommodates their schedules.

The school has partnered with Norton Healthcare to offer a vaccination clinic on Jan. 29 that will be open to the public.

The clinic will offer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the school’s Arts & Athletic Center, 900 S. Fourth Street, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Patients may register here. Walk-ins will also be accepted. The clinic is open to those ages 12 and older.

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