How Do We Vaccinate People Who Don’t Come to Get the Shot?

Bob Atkins, director of New Jersey Health Initiatives and an associate professor of nursing and childhood studies at Rutgers University, says we can’t wait for certain communities to come to get a vaccine, we must go to them. Above, he gives the vaccine to the best nurse he knows: his 80-year-old mother Elizabeth Atkins.

Public health leaders expect the pace of COVID-19 vaccine administration will speed up as more vaccine becomes available and more vaccine sites are established. They think most New Jerseyans will get their shots at mega-sites, hospital or healthcare system-based sites, or retail outlets like CVS pharmacies and Shoprite supermarkets.

Less clear, however, is how they can make sure hard-to-reach people — older adults without transportation, those experiencing homelessness, agricultural workers and those who are undocumented — will be vaccinated. These are people most likely to be in racial/ethnic and income groups hit hardest by the virus.

In a commentary for Nj.com,  Bob Atkins, Director of New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI), an associate professor of nursing and childhood studies at Rutgers University and a former school nurse, shared his perspective as a COVID-19 volunteer vaccinator and how NJHI is working with state leaders to design a multi-faceted strategy to vaccinate hard-to-reach New Jerseyans through our years-long relationships with local health departments, and by relying on trusted community-based organizations, their partners, resident-leaders and medical personnel.

To read the full Op-Ed, click here