CLARKSTON, Ga.—With Batman and Superwoman ‘superheroes’ leading the charge, almost 500 children and their families were vaccinated or received a booster for COVID-19 at special events at Indian Creek Elementary Schools and the International Community School.
It was all part of the “Be a Superhero, Get Vaxxed” initiative led by Clarkston Coalition for Health and Vaccine Access, a coalition of more than 30 local health and social services organizations, including Georgia State’s Center for Prevention Research.
Both vaccine events were aimed at schools which serve students from large refugee and immigrant communities. Together, the schools represent more than 40 countries worldwide and 45 different languages.
As part of the “Superheroes” theme, volunteers dressed as Superwoman and Batman played games, gave away prizes, and cheered on the children as they were vaccinated.
Everyone who was vaccinated got a $100 gift card from DeKalb County, a goody bag with crayons, coloring books, sanitizers, candy and an “I Got Vaccinated” pin to wear or put on their backpacks.
The vaccines were provided by Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) and the International Rescue Committee. Interpreters and members of PRC’s Vaccine Ambassador program were available to answer questions and guide people as needed.
“This event was really important because (the schools) were close to the participants homes—and they had translators there,” said Selar Shwani who worked as a PRC Community Ambassador and translator for Kurdish families at both schools. “Those who showed up were women with little children and it’s hard for them to go somewhere without a car. The money helped as well—$100 really made a difference,” she said.
The interactive events with the superhero theme were designed to make children feel less anxious, and most importantly, make it a memorable experience to encourage them to come back for their second vaccine. “The games and activities also helped a lot to convince children to get the shot,” Shwani said.
“These events have helped Clarkston’s community exceed the vaccine rate in DeKalb County by 8 percent,” said Dr. Mary Helen O’Connor, director of community engagement for the PRC. “And that is significant. The level of “fully vaccinated” citizens in Clarkston is 20 percent higher than for those in areas with comparable social vulnerability indices in the county on average. This suggests that we have the potential to improve protection against Covid-19 using the community-wide collaboration happening in Clarkston with a positive impact on a particularly precarious community.”
Clarkston is identified as socially vulnerable community—a community where income, language proficiency, household composition, housing density, minority status and other social determinants of health impact the ability of a community to withstand a hazardous event (like a pandemic, tornado or heat wave).
Indian Creek Elementary will host a second event Saturday, March 5 with the same incentives to encourage students to receive their second shot. The event is open just to families served by the school.