Congratulations to the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) EXCITE team for receiving the National Immunization Excellence Award for "Immunization Neighborhood Champion" at the National Adult Immunization Summit! This award acknowledges their outstanding efforts in fostering collaboration and communication among immunization stakeholders within their community. They exemplify Extension's role as a partner in immunization education and public health.
The Virginia EXCITE team was nominated for this award by their partner at the Virginia Health Department, who saw firsthand how Extension's reach into rural and underserved Virginia communities helped to facilitate access to vaccine education and vaccines. Kathy Hosig from Virginia Tech accepted the award at the conference in Atlanta and she said, it was "a very exciting opportunity to highlight the role of Extension in this work and the information I shared about Extension at the luncheon panel presentation seemed to be very well-received."
Through EXCITE, VCE agents and specialists from Virginia Tech (VT) and Virginia State University (VSU) address vaccine-related health disparities in rural and underserved communities. They collaborate with various organizations, such as county government, health departments, emergency medical services, United Way, and local pharmacies, to provide culturally tailored vaccine education at festivals and community events. Additionally, they host vaccine clinics in partnership with local health departments and pharmacies, increasing access to vaccinations in high-need areas.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, VCE partnered with state and local offices of the Virginia Department of Health to serve as trusted messengers in local communities. They worked with emergency medical services, local hospitals, school systems, and parks and recreation to establish weekly vaccination clinics for 13 weeks. VCE interns also assisted with call-in registrations and contacted eligible residents.
A job well done, VCE EXCITE Team!
pictured: Julie Zajac, CDC, Kathy Hosig, Virginia Tech, Alexi Piasecki, CDC.