May 22, 2023UGA Extension provides farmworker health videos
University of Georgia Extension is releasing a series of videos to promote farmworkers’ health and wellbeing. The video series is in Spanish and English.
UGA is part of a national effort to improve farmworker health. In 2021, Georgia was in the bottom five states for adult COVID-19 vaccinations. UGA received grant funding to collect data on local vaccination rates. The data was used to develop programs about COVID-19 and other illnesses. Efforts were focused on vulnerable and rural populations, including growers and farmworkers and middle school parents on the science and benefits of vaccines.
Because of working in close contact with others and group travel, farmworkers remain at increased health risk for contracting COVID and other diseases. As farm work is considered essential, most farms continued operating throughout the pandemic. Research suggested that if COVID-19 spread among farmworkers, the health and economic impact could be devastating, according to a news release.
The Centers for Disease Control partnered with the Extension Foundation to provide vaccination education funding in rural communities. In 2021, UGA Extension received funds to develop and provide vaccine education for southwest Georgia farmworkers. In 2022, it was expanded to include parents of youth.
UGA Extension has been awarded a third round of vaccine education funding. The 18-month project begins June 1 and will focus on three counties in southeast Georgia and the surrounding areas: Candler, Tattnall and Telfair counties. Local UGA Extension agents and health department personnel will work to provide vaccine education tools and resources, with an emphasis on overall health and well-being. The goal is to increase vaccination rates in all three communities for vaccinations including flu, tetanus, COVID and MMR.
The project aims to increase vaccine knowledge and reduce vaccine hesitancy among farmworkers. To learn about community needs, surveys of producers, focus groups with migrant farmworkers, and conversations with community and health partners were hosted. UGA Extension agricultural agents helped provide access to growers and determined the best approaches to education.
Tailgate education materials were created and made available as Spanish/English vaccine education videos. The videos focus on ways farm workers can protect their health, including through vaccinations, personal hygiene, and mental well-being. A version in Haitian Creole is in development.
Project leaders also developed a vaccine education curriculum for middle school students. The team worked with seven 4-H agents to test it in seven rural counties. Through take-home activities, the students served as a conduit to educate parents on common areas of vaccine misinformation.
Science-based vaccine education videos were created by UGA and other sources. Links have been posted on the UGA Extension Facebook account, targeting populations with low vaccination rates. To date, nearly 850,000 people have been reached by the social media content generated through the project.
Up to 96 Projects representing 73 land-grant universities are funded through the national effort. Funding partners include Extension Collaboration on Immunization Teaching and Engagement (EXCITE), the ECOP Health Program Action Team (Cooperative Extension’s national collective for health equity and well-being), USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the CDC.
More information is available here.