Engaging Our Community With Event-Based Vaccine Information and Advocacy

Christy Calhoun, Chief Content Officer, Content Solutions

Healthwise works to be a trusted source of health education for all people—including those with limited access to care and resources, like people experiencing homelessness. I recently joined 10 colleagues to help further that goal through a COVID-19 vaccine community outreach event.


CATCH, a Boise-based nonprofit working to end homelessness in our community, invited Healthwise to participate in its Cooper Court Vaccine Block Party. The October event provided COVID-19 vaccines and information to unhoused people. Our group volunteered to participate on a “bonus” vacation day that Healthwise gave its employees. We shared Healthwise videos covering the importance of the vaccine and provided information to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We also offered healthy snacks and incentives to encourage vaccination. Other event partners included the St. Alphonsus Mobile Vaccine Clinic, and the Interfaith Sanctuary and Corpus Christi shelters for those experiencing homelessness.

Increasing Vaccinations and a Sense of Community

The vibrant block party, enriched by live music and pizza, generated smiles, dancing, and a spirit of togetherness. The impact of the event is inspiring: the event got more people vaccinated at a time when Idaho hospitals are still in crisis standards of care. I was equally uplifted, though, by the experience of standing as an advocate beside people in need. I learned not only to advocate for the vaccine, but to be an advocate for each new friend I made while hanging out around the vaccine line. The people we connected with may sleep in shelters or under tarps in the rain. They may have underlying health conditions that make it difficult to get back on their feet. They are sometimes invisible to others. But they deserve equal access to resources, trusted information, care, and kindness. I listened to people, smiled and laughed with them, and looked in their eyes to really see them. Together we made jokes, shared fears, and even sang Tom Petty songs. Sometimes I helped move people from skeptical to accepting. Dark eyes of resistance softened to the warmth of a smile and a slow nod. And in some cases, I believe that our advocacy in the line helped encourage people to hang in there, to feel that they had a buddy who cared about them, and to continue in the line until they were vaccinated.

Watching my Healthwise colleagues connect to people at the block party—not just as consumers or people in need, but as our neighbors—really touched me. People who are unhoused are often treated as "other.” But through small acts of kindness, we all embraced them as part of our community.

Health Literacy For All

I am grateful to work for an organization that cares about health literacy for all. We are a trustworthy source of health education created in plain language, with clear visuals, based on the best science available. We are also advocates for people who have limited access to resources and care. We will keep working together toward this mission every day. Healthwise is committed to finding new paths to reach people, as we did through this community public health event. Contact us so we can partner and learn how to support scalable community-based outreach.