OCHO RIOS, St Ann — Flash mobs, church hops, catchy jingles and phrases were all part of the creative ways the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA) used to encourage vaccination against the novel coronavirus. Not only did their efforts pay off by getting jabs in arms, but they were given the health promotion and education (HPE) recognition award for creativity and innovation.
In St Mary, HPE officer Monique Richards-Scott and her team danced in the streets during a COVID-19 flash mob, urging those watching to SMS (sanitise, mask-up and social distance). Valerie McLeary, Portland's HPE officer, thought of doing church hops and went to various places of worship in the parishes to educate members about the pandemic and importance of getting vaccinated. St Ann's HPE officer Michelle White partnered with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and gave hotel workers a chance to participate in the vaccination promotion campaign which boosted the take-up rate within the tourism sector.
In recognition of their creativity, the prestigious HPE award was presented by Minister of Health of Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton to NERHA's HPE officer Shauna Llewellyn Gordon at the ministry's annual health promotion and education review held earlier this month.
Llewellyn Gordon explained that, in speaking with residents, they realised the importance of identifying effective ways to get their message across.
“We are at the corner shop, in the bars and churches because we knew our target audience and the results we wanted,” she said. “We have a small creative group of HPE officers but we used innovative and creative strategies to reach our target audience in new and different ways.”
Grateful that the ministry has recognised NERHA's efforts, Llewellyn Gordon commended the team for a job well done.
“I am elated that our HPE officers have been recognised for their hard work in the field. As we navigate and battle this pandemic, it is important that we salute health professionals who are motivated and committed despite the challenges,” she said.
NERHA's Regional Technical Director Dr Patrick Wheatle also commended the team for the “well-deserved” recognition. Their efforts, he said, had been effective.
“What we found was that more persons were coming on board so the little catch songs and phrases stuck with the communities and reminded them what should be done. More persons within our own organisation also wanted to take the vaccine as the various messages sent across by the team were effective,” Wheatle said.
The work continues, with the regional technical director promising that the team will keep reassessing and adjusting how they craft and deliver messages as required while the pandemic still rages.
— Akera Davis