TARGETING VACCINE HESITANCY
Fort Worth SPARC Uses COVID-19 Trends and Impact Survey Data to Increase Youth COVID-19 Testing and Vaccinations across Northern Texas
Fort Worth SPARC’s mission is to strengthen, partner and advocate for youth through the delivery of resources to their highest acuity of need during out of school time (OST). The program was established in 2012 with funding from the Wallace Foundation to deliver state of the art after school programming within Fort Worth, Texas. More than a decade later, Fort Worth SPARC has evolved into a leader in youth OST, parent and provider education programming in the greater Tarrant County area. SPARC is providing cutting edge programming, partnerships and collaborations designed to eliminate youth “opportunity gaps.” Their goal is to build a strong network and provide resources for the 250,000 youth living in Tarrant County.
Tarrant County is the third-most populous county in Texas, 15th-most populous in the United States, with a largely urban population. Over half a million cases of COVID-19 infection have been recorded in Tarrant County and close to 6,000 County residents have died from COVID-19 complications. Moreover, as school resumed in the fall of 2021, infection rapidly spread among school-age children and over 172,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported among Texas Public School students since the beginning of the school year. COVID-19 infection and fatalities disproportionately impact racial/ethnic minorities and people living in low socioeconomic conditions. These vulnerable communities are a challenge to engage through generic interventions that do not address their specific needs. It, therefore, became imperative to design agile community interventions tailored to the specific risk and needs of each community and to implement them in a timely and culturally responsive manner. Traditional public health data, however, lack the timeliness, geographic precision, and broad availability required for near-real-time pandemic monitoring and community interventions. Fort Worth SPARC needed new data sources that could generate hyperlocal, widely available, and near-real-time insights to help stop infection spread and fatality among vulnerable Tarrant County communities.
THE TEAM of EXPERTS
Tobi Jackson, M..S.
25+ years experience
My PHI & FORT WORTH SPARC PRESENT
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fort Worth SPARC has supported the Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) with return to school activities, including conducting analysis using the COVID-19 Trends and Impact Survey (CTIS) data to better understand local testing needs and to combat vaccine misinformation specific to their county and population. CTIS was developed and conducted through a partnership between the Data for Good at Meta program, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Delphi Research Center and University of Maryland (UMD) Joint Program in Survey Methodology (JPSM). This global survey has been fielded in more than 200 countries and promoted daily on Facebook to help academic partners collect real time information on COVID-19 vaccine acceptance, preventive behaviors, symptoms and more.
When students first started returning to school in fall 2021, the community was concerned about COVID-19 transmission in schools and decided to implement targeted screening across schools in the county. Using CTIS data, SPARC also partnered with MyPHI, a North Texas health data and technology startup, to identify in near-real-time which US Zip Codes had higher incidences of COVID-19 transmission on a week-by-week basis and could thus support informed decisions by the school district about where to set up testing sites, as well as the number of tests to allocate to those locations. Additionally, they looked at the social determinants of the youth population with higher incidences of COVID-19 by examining social vulnerability as measured by the Area Deprivation Index, a measure of socioeconomic deprivation at the local level.
Using this strategy, the research team was able to risk-stratify 233 students across three pilot elementary school campuses, identify 74 students at high risk for COVID-19 infection, and send a weekly report to FWISD school nurses and the FWISD telehealth contractor, to use for targeted interventions. At the same time, they reached out to the parents/guardians of all students to educate them about the importance of COVID-19 testing and to secure consent for school-based testing.
“ CTIS data provided us with near-real-time insights on trends in COVID-19 community transmission, which was crucial in engaging key stakeholders such as school nurses, administrators, educators, as well as families for our school-based pandemic monitoring strategy”
~ Dr. Yolande Pengetnze, MD, Clinical and Scientific Lead, MyPHI.
Another important facet of Fort Worth SPARC/MyPHI’s ongoing pandemic support is helping to improve vaccine uptake across North Texas. Both teams are currently working with six organizations that cover more than 1.2 million people that are eligible for vaccines. The research team pulled additional CTIS data on trusted sources of vaccine information and reasons why people don’t want to take vaccines to help them prioritize outreach, combat misinformation and better understand the barriers to vaccine uptake in their area. They learned that the primary reasons for vaccine hesitancy in Tarrant County were fear of side effects and people wanting to wait-and-see. Moreover, Tarrant county residents most trusted their doctors/healthcare professionals, friends and families for information about the COVID-19 vaccines, and least trusted politicians.
Above: On December 18, 2021, Love4Locals hosted their holiday event, including holiday food, a hot meal, clothing, children's presents and bicycles. Covid -19 vaccine education was provided to 350+ families and 61 vaccines were administered to individuals (age 5 - adult) were delivered by FW SPARC, MyPHI, The Concilio and The Tarrant County Health Department. #livenlovefwyouth
Above: Fort Worth SPARC in 76105, one of the high Covid Vaccine Hesitancy Hot Zones in Tarrant County. Here we have "The Observation Area" March 17, 2022 at "CAMP SPARC in SYCAMORE PARK", Covid 19 Vaccines were provided in partnership with The Concilio for all camp attendees and families.
Combining CTIS vaccine hesitancy data with state and county vaccination rates data, they created a COVID-19 vaccine opportunity dashboard for all Zip Codes in Tarrant County. The dashboard was later expanded to include four North Texas counties: Dallas, Tarrant, Hunt, and Parker, and was used by a coalition of five high-impact community organizations, brought together by the Communities Foundation of Texas through a $2 million grant investment, to combat COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and increase vaccine uptake in the highest needs North Texas communities. This dashboard was updated monthly and community-specific risk profiles helped county-level decision makers make targeted plans on messaging and outreach. Low Hesitancy/Low Vaccination Zip Codes were prioritized for vaccine outreach, while High Hesitancy/Low Vaccination Zip Codes were prioritized for tailored messaging and outreach.
“The work in targeted Zip Codes allowed us to expand our collaboration including Texas Health Resources and The Concilio as vaccine partners, beyond our work with the Tarrant County Health Department. We attracted 30+ partner organizations which produced an intense, yet welcoming share of voice in the community. The results were high community attendance, engagement and trust through collaborative work.”
~ Tobi Jackson, Executive Director, Fort Worth SPARC
This data-driven coalition, dubbed the Vaccine Community of Practice (VCoP), reached over 95,000 North Texas community members with COVID-19 education tailored to their unique risk profile and using a multimodal outreach, including in-person, email, text messages, and social media outreach. Over 14,000 community members were referred for vaccination and ~10,000 received COVID-19 vaccine directly from a VCoP participating organization.
“CTIS data was pivotal in driving our COVID-19 VCoP collective impact. The timely data insights helped rally diverse stakeholders around the common goal of protecting our vulnerable communities. CTIS combined with Health Department data guided us to target vaccine campaigns to the highest risk community and tailor interventions to meet community-specific needs and opportunities.”
~ Dr. Dimple Sureka, MD, Community Philanthropy Officer, Communities Foundation of Texas
Above: Screenshot of the COVID-19 VCoP Opportunity Dashboard
CTIS is a unique data source that provides unprecedented insights into community behavior and decision making. Fort Worth SPARC and MyPHI leveraged the timeliness and insightfulness of CTIS data, combined with existing public health data sources, to combat COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, increase vaccine uptake, and support school-based interventions across North Texas. They plan to continue using CTIS as long as it is available to further mitigate the impact of the pandemic in their community. Moreover, they wish to extend their collaboration with Meta and other online platforms, replicating the CTIS approach to identify and address emerging trends in public health issues, especially the concerning rise in online health misinformation and hesitancy to routine immunizations.