If somebody knocks on your door in Calhoun County in the coming weeks asking to sign you up for the COVID-19 vaccine, don’t assume it’s a scam.  It could be a legitimate volunteer working with the Calhoun County Health Department  (CCPHD) under a State outreach pilot program that uses census data to try and reach certain neighborhoods.

But Calhoun County Health officer Eric Pessell says they're done with the program for now.   He says the volunteers could be back out in the future.

COVID-19 Vaccine outreach and education efforts are ongoing by various organizations in Calhoun County, and one way that's being done is through the recently-awarded vaccine grant for the Michigan Community Outreach Pilot Program.   CCPHD has been working with partners  to fill vaccine appointments for the upcoming clinics.

Pessell said their goal was to get 1,000 people in Calhoun County's most vulnerable community vaccinated under the pilot program.  "We came up short of the goal but we did get about 400 Battle Creek people in last Saturday for their shot, and 290 in Albion too."   He said he believed they were able to gather valuable information about areas in the county with high degrees of "vaccine hesitancy".

"We hope to use that data and knowledge to better focus our education efforts to help increase uptake," said Pessell.  "Another issue which is a positive is we have already been focusing on our vulnerable communities and had completed over 1,000 vaccinations in these neighborhoods before the pilot program.  In other words, we had already vaccinated the folks who are ready to be vaccinated and now we have those that are hesitant."

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A Facebook post on the Emmett Township Department of Public Safety noted that area departments had received reports of residents' suspicions of scams.   Each volunteer is equipped with official documents and can show they are helping in our outreach efforts.

Volunteers were signing up individuals 60+ years of age in those neighborhoods.

In a March 9th release, the State Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) said the goal of the pilot program is to help remove barriers to vaccine access for Michiganders 60 and older who live in communities with high Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) and high COVID-19 mortality rates. If providers have additional capacity in their project, they may expand vaccination to include people age 50-59 with disabilities or comorbid conditions.  SVI is a tool that uses census data to identify places where a community may have more difficulty preventing human suffering and financial loss in a disaster. It assesses the extent that 15 known indicators are present within a community based on socioeconomic status, family composition, and disability, minority status and language, housing, and transportation.

Pessell says they may continue with the door-to-door volunteers again later in the spring.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.

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