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A Workforce Vaccination Success Story

Eighty-seven percent.

That’s the acceptance rate for the COVID-19 vaccine at Glens Falls Hospital in Upstate New York. Moreover, the organization has already completed its administration of first doses. Remarkable milestones, certainly.

Glens Falls has some advantages – most significant being that it’s a small hospital with 400 beds and 2,500 employees. Even so, the level of vaccine acceptance among the employee base is stunning – especially in comparison to nearby hospitals that are sitting at 50 to 60 percent.

We wanted to know how they did it, so we chatted with Ray Agnew, vice president of hospital and community engagement, who explained his organization’s secret sauce. (See video for full conversation). Here are his top takes:

  1. Find a champion. Agnew and the Glens Falls team looked to Hillary Alycon, their director of infectious disease prevention and control, as a key messenger to explain the value of the vaccine. Alycon is known for connecting with people. “She’s incredibly articulate and fun to be around,” said Agnew, adding that she has a gift for explaining complex issues in understandable ways.
  2. Educate, don’t tell. The team has featured Alycon in two vaccine education videos. The first was for employees to understand why accepting the vaccination would be good for them and their patients. The second was for the community itself. Communications also puts out a weekly bulletin to help people understand what the vaccine is all about. Agnew emphasized that offering the same basic content in multiple formats and styles has been vital to helping each audience understand it and be more likely to accept it.
  3. Be transparent. It’s pretty straightforward. “We let people know that when we got information, they’d get information,” Agnew noted. Honesty about what is known and unknown helps people feel confident in the information they do receive, especially when dealing with a challenging situation like a disjointed vaccine rollout.
  4. Plan for simplicity. Made every effort for the vaccination process itself to be as easy as possible, Agnew said. “That’s been a big part of our success,” he said. When you’re talking about a fearful situation – fear of the disease and some fear of the vaccine as well – focus on simple messaging, process and directions.  Do that, and the communications will resonate.

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