OKEECHOBEE -- As one of 26 recipients of the National Association of County & City Health Officials, (NACCHO) COVID Rural/Frontier Workforce Grant, FDOH-Okeechobee worked diligently using the teachings from NACCHO to help improve the public’s understanding of the COVID-19 vaccine. After nine months of trainings, webinars, and group chats, FDOH-Okeechobee had the third highest increase in COVID-19 vaccination rates among all NACCHO Grant recipients with a total increase of 140% vaccination rate from May 2021 through November 2021 in Okeechobee County.
Part of the NACCHO Grant funding was used to hire quality personnel to help educate and vaccinate underserved populations of Okeechobee County. One of the success stories was our joint effort with FDOH-Okeechobee, FDOH-Dixie, and FDOH-Gilchrist Counties to get migrant farm workers vaccinated with the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Okeechobee County and the second Moderna dose when the migrant farm workers moved on to Dixie or Gilchrist counties a month later when they moved to finish working in those counties.
Another success was our commitment to PACE EH community, Douglas Park. The health department set up a POD in the Douglas Brown Community Center and coordinated with the community leaders to get the word out to the residents who were unable to go to the Agri-Civic Center to receive a COVID-19 vaccine due to health issues or transportation challenges. We completed the second dose at a follow up POD, at the same community center one month later, to help the residents of this underserved community get fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
FDOH-Okeechobee’s Strategic Plan, Strategic Area, is Readiness for Emerging Public Health Threats which aligns with the State Strategic Plan. The Community Health Improvement Plan focuses on a Healthier Okeechobee with a goal to improve the health of residents by increased utilization of preventative health services. FDOH-Okeechobee’s CHIP aligns with the SHIP. Our commitment to Health Equity helps underserved communities receive important vaccine education and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.
With the NACCHO Grant and FDOH-Okeechobee staff commitment to community health efforts, the department was able to give the COVID-19 vaccine to residents that may not have been able to receive the vaccine any other way. When COVID-19 vaccines are in arms, less of the virus is around to infect others. The number one goal in Florida is to stop the spread of COVID-19 which is a global pandemic.