Last year, the Alabama Statewide Area Healthcare Education Centers (AHEC) formed a network to create a coalition of community partners from across the state by providing training to teams involved with COVID-19 testing in rural and underserved Alabama.
AHEC has also produced a playbook, How to Establish a Community-Based Vaccination Site for the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, that will enable any organization in the state to follow a series of steps to establish vaccination sites as vaccines become available for distribution.
The Network partnership comprises the AHEC Program Office, housed in the UAB Department of Family and Community Medicine, and its five regional AHEC centers; the Alabama Civil Air Patrol; UAB Infectious Disease Laboratory; Alabama Emergency Management Agency; Alabama Department of Public Health and instrumental community partners identified by region.
Since May 2020, the AHEC Network has reached out to underserved populations, particularly Hispanics and African Americans, and administered 3,927 tests at 62 testing sites across the state. The success of this initiative will allow the network to target these same rural and underserved populations where vaccine hesitancy is high, and to assist other organizations interested in doing the same.
The vaccination effort will be a massive undertaking that will require the commitment of partners throughout Alabama's health care community. Rural vaccination efforts will be particularly difficult due to the disparity of access, and shortages of health professionals.
Organizations interested in setting up a vaccination site in their community are encouraged to review the Alabama AHEC Network playbook at www.alahec.network.