ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A new pilot program is launching in Orange County next week. Leaders said community canvassers will go door-to-door in neighborhoods to help more people get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The program will be in partnership with the State of Florida and FEMA.
County officials said the concern is that some communities don’t have proper access to a vaccination site or may not have enough information.
The goal of the program is to have trusted members of the community help get eligible individuals vaccinated inside their homes.
Orange County Commissioner Mayra Uribe said that the county is actively seeking ways to increase the outreach to neighborhoods where vaccination numbers are low.
“I think this is a great idea. It’s a huge step forward because we really are missing a lot of underserved communities,” Uribe said. “I believe the language and the culture factor are a big part of this and still there are individuals who are scared. They don’t feel like they have enough information about the vaccination.”
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said next week he plans to announce the details of the new pilot program. He said there is also a job opportunity for people to be hired as community canvassers.
Uribe said that she’s identified the 32839 and 32809 zip codes as being underserved.
“Where we are, it isn’t quite in the city limits, we are right outside of it. There isn’t a community center, there aren’t churches as condensed as in other areas of town, so people aren’t getting that access to it,” Uribe said.
Mayor Demings said a similar pilot program in South Florida wasn’t successful because canvassers didn’t build trust with individuals prior to paramedics showing up with vaccines.
“Someone knocks on their door and says, ‘Hey you want a vaccine?’ Some of them say, ‘Oh no I don’t know you, I don’t think I can let you give me a shot in the arm at this point,’” Demings said.
Demings added his goal is to have paramedics return with the community canvasser a day or two after they developed trust with the resident.
Orange County said FEMA is in charge of hiring the community canvassers.
At this point, it’s unclear how many people will be involved in the program and how long it will last.