The good ‘Vaccine Fairies’ help with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout

By Dennis Archambault

The good news is that thousands of people are receiving coronavirus vaccines in the United States daily. The bad news, a quarter of the population is resistant to the vaccine, for political, religious, or other personal reasons. Many people are willing but hesitant, homebound older adults, or those otherwise in need of support. There aren’t enough community health workers and other public health personnel to reach segments of the population needing support. Enter, or perhaps, “flutter in,” the “Vaccine Fairies.” This concept of virtual volunteerism was born in New York City and has caught the fancy of others who are willing to spread the message that vaccines are safe and very important for the country to reach herd immunity and return to normal functioning.

Summer Johnson McGee, Dean of the University of New Haven School of Health Sciences, credits the creativity of these “vaccine fairies,” but reminds us of the importance of the public health infrastructure. “The fact that the federal and state governments did not budget for and hire workers to assist individuals with access to vaccination was a huge oversight. The Fairies should be praised for their altruism while the blame goes to the government for a  lack of support for older adults and sufficient staffing to help navigate this system.”

Hopefully, as the various federal support laws appropriate funding for the public health infrastructure, there will be increased support for community-based engagement, particularly by community health workers, who represent a role once provided by public health nurses.

Dennis Archambault is vice president of Public Affairs for Authority Health.