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UW Extension Campaign Seeks to Boost COVID-19 Vaccination Rates

August 16, 2021
billboard with family on one side and words on the other side
This Vaccinate Up Wyoming billboard is in Gillette. (UW Photo)

An effort by University of Wyoming Extension and Wyoming 2-1-1 to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates in Wyoming is appealing to the state’s individualism -- but also its reputation for neighbors looking out for neighbors.

Information about Vaccinate Up is at www.uwyo.edu/uwe/vax-up.

“The choice to vaccinate is a personal one, but one that has communal impacts,” says Kali McCrackin Goodenough in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Our work to increase confidence in COVID-19 vaccination is built on the Wyoming spirit of taking care of each other and protecting one another.”

The campaign started with a national effort by the extension services at land-grant universities and, in Wyoming, was initially focused on at-risk populations. Since then, COVID-19 has changed, and the campaign has evolved with it, she says.

“The landscape is changing quickly,” says McCrackin Goodenough, based in the Cent$ible Nutrition Program.

“We are taking a broader approach to encourage everyone to consider vaccination as well as reach at-risk populations,” she says. “One of the themes that keeps coming up is that, in rural states like Wyoming, people are often more trusting of the voices in their own social circles than of mainstream media or other resources.”

The campaign includes Wyoming residents sharing their vaccination stories in a series of videos.

“This effort is from Wyoming, for Wyoming,” McCrackin Goodenough says.

The videos will be on the WY VAX UP site, and McCrackin Goodenough says the videos are posted through UW Extension to social media platforms, such as YouTube.

The campaign also encourages people to use the hashtag #WyIVaxUp to share their stories through Facebook and other social media platforms.

“We are looking for real voices, real Wyoming people talking about why vaccination is important and how it made a difference in their lives,” she says.

The campaign also includes working with Eastern Shoshone Tribal Health; creating a series of billboards; developing frequently asked questions sheets; and a youth campaign through Pandora, social media and web information.

A webpage for young people and their parents is available at www.uwyo.edu/uwe/vax-up/youth-vax-up.html.

About 34 percent of Wyoming residents were fully vaccinated as of Aug. 9, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH). Crook and Campbell counties have the lowest rates at about 19 percent. Teton is highest at about 71 percent.

McCrackin Goodenough says the UW Extension effort links to resources that already exist, such as the WDH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Wyoming 2-1-1. Wyoming 2-1-1, in partnership with the WDH, houses the Wyoming COVID-19 Aging Network focused on maintaining the health of homebound elders in Wyoming.

Wyoming COVID-19 vaccine information and where vaccinations are being offered in Wyoming counties, testing sites and other COVID-19 information, such as travel and housing assistance, can be found on the Wyoming 2-1-1 webpage at https://wy211.communityos.org/covid19-faqs.

“The overall goal of the campaign nationally and our work locally is to create confidence in vaccination,” McCrackin Goodenough says. “We offer the facts and encourage Wyoming citizens to think about people they care about and how to protect them.”

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