One of the most important aspects of rebuilding after a disaster is building with resiliency in mind. Disaster resiliency in communities and at home begins with building codes. These codes provide guidance on how to build structures that can withstand damaging winds, tornados, seismic activity and floods.
To support these efforts, each year FEMA collaborates with the International Code Council to participate in Building Safety Month and support the adoption and enforcement of up-to-date disaster-resistant codes. This international campaign raises awareness about the importance of building codes.
Modern building codes address construction issues such as structural integrity; resistance to fire, wind, flood, snow and seismic events; life safety; building systems; construction materials; energy conservation; and green building. Building codes help ensure that you are safe in the buildings where you live, work and play.
In addition to the steps FEMA takes to improve code enforcement, we provide education and training to convey the value of standardized, up-to-date building codes. We also require that reconstruction under our Hazard Mitigation Grants and our Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities grant program must be done in compliance with building codes.
To stay current, FEMA tracks current hazard-resistant building code adoption status for state, local, tribal and territorial governments, reaching approximately 22,000 jurisdictions across the nation. This effort, often referred to as Building Code Adoption Tracking, evaluates several aspects of a community’s natural hazard risks and building code adoption.
FEMA recently released new fact sheets that uses this data to help you better understand local building and identify the hazard risks— and ways you can mitigate them — in your community. The Building Code Adoption Tracking fact sheets provide an overview within each state and territory and are organized by FEMA region.
These fact sheets:
- Look closely at how each state has adjusted building or residential codes for any of five tracked hazards (damaging wind, hurricane wind, tornados, seismic activity and floods).
- Assess the status of the building and residential codes for mandatory or limited statewide or territory-wide adoption.
- Show the percentage of hazard-resistant jurisdictions within each state or territory.
As of April 1, 2021, only 35% of hazard-prone communities have the latest hazard-resistant building codes. In November 2020, FEMA released Building Codes Save: A Nationwide Study, projecting that adopting modern hazard-resistant building codes will avoid $132 billion in future losses and provide a sustainable return on hazard mitigation investment.
You can help make a difference in the effort to create more sustainable communities by taking simple steps — such as reviewing the Building Code Adoption Tracking fact sheets that apply to your area or visiting InspecttoProtect.org to determine the building codes used where you live.
InspecttoProtect.org can also help you discover innovative ideas for retrofitting your home to increase resilience and learn how to contact your local government for information about building codes used in the past.
With housing construction on the rise and hurricane season around the corner, its important to note that according to the Association of State Floodplain Managers, the insurance savings from meeting current codes’ flood mitigation requirements can reduce homeowner’s net monthly mortgage and flood insurance cost by at least 5 percent.
This year’s Building Safety Month theme — “Prevent. Prepare. Protect. Building Codes Save.” — reminds us that there are ways we can make our homes and communities safer and more resilient. Join us in these efforts and help spread the word about Building Safety.
Visit the Nationwide Building Code Adoption page for more information about tools from FEMA and our partners.All Building Codes Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Community Resilience Resilience
The Civil Defense Staff College opened on April 1, 1951 with the intention of teaching civil defense courses due to anxiety over the Cold War. Concerns about a potential attack led the college to relocate the campus from Olney, Maryland, to St. Joseph’s campus in Battle Creek, Michigan.
When FEMA was created in 1979, the Civil Defense Staff College joined with several other federal agencies focused on disaster response, including the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency.
In the same year, the Civil Defense Staff College closed and merged its programs and students with the National Emergency Training Center. President Jimmy Carter dedicated the former Mount Saint Mary’s University, in Emmitsburg, Maryland, as the FEMA National Emergency Training Center.
The training center was changed to the Emergency Management Institute, a broader name to include the National Fire Academy and reflect the nation’s readiness posture. The Emergency Management Institute was moved from Battle Creek, Michigan to Emmitsburg, Maryland a year later; and in 1981, the institute held its first class.
When Hurricane Andrew devastated portions of South Florida, Louisiana, and the Caribbean in 1992, the urgency to address the training implications for emergency managers at all levels of government was highlighted. After careful consideration, it became apparent that the institute could no longer serve as both a training and an educational institution.
To address this, FEMA develop a plan to transition the institute’s educational mission to colleges and universities to foster a higher level of commitment to emergency management. A year later, FEMA launched the Emergency Management Higher Education Project. The name of was changed in 2008 to Emergency Management Higher Education Program.
At that time, only three higher education institutions offered emergency management programs. This repositioning encouraged and supported the teaching of emergency management in colleges and universities across the country to help ensure that the next generation of emergency managers come to the job with a degree in emergency management
In 2017, the Higher Education Program was reassigned from the Emergency Management Institute to the National Training and Education Division at FEMA headquarters to raise the profile and expand the reach of the program. The move also helps build closer relationships with FEMA’s training and education programs.
Today, there are more than 721 emergency management programs around the nation and the globe. In 2020, there were about 8,000 graduates who earned an emergency management degree; nearly half of graduates move on to public sector emergency management positions. More than 50% of faculty are part-time and nearly 30% of faculty have an emergency management practitioner background.
Emergency managers are integral to our efforts to protect the nation: with their experience and support, our homes, families and communities are safer and more resilient.
Having the tools, resources and space available to train these professionals is critical. The ability of the Emergency Management Institute and the Higher Education Project to provide these is vital to the country’s future.
The Emergency Management Institute will be hosting a 70th anniversary on its website in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned for upcoming notices and events.All Emergency Managers Emergency Plan Training
As more and more people get vaccinated and we begin to return to busy schedules, it is important to remember to take time to plan for disasters.
The Pacific hurricane season begins this weekend, followed by the Atlantic hurricane season on June 1. As we enter the hurricane season, with climate change enhancing the possibility and frequency of hurricanes, it is more important than ever to be prepared.
One of the best things you can do to prepare for hurricane season is to get vaccinated! This helps protect you if you need to evacuate to a shelter or interact with local emergency personnel.
Here are some other simple steps you can take to prepare yourself and your family.
Know your Evacuation Route
Check with local officials about what shelter spaces are available this year. Don’t forget — coronavirus may have altered your community’s plans.
Have enough food, water and other supplies for every member of your family to last at least 72 hours. Consider the unique needs of your family, such as supplies for pets or medication for seniors. Adding extra masks, soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes or general household cleaning supplies can help to protect you from COVID-19 when you evacuate to a shelter.
Make an Emergency Plan
Make sure everyone in your household knows and understands your hurricane plan. Don’t forget a plan for the office, daycare center, school and any other locations you frequent.
Plan with Disability in Mind
No two people are the same: each of us moves through, functions in and navigates the world differently. It is important to make your emergency plan based on what works best for you. Creating a support network or planning ahead with accessible transportation can ensure that you stay safe when disaster strikes. Visit Ready.gov/disability for more information on how to plan if, for example, you are blind, hard of hearing or have sensory disabilities.
Remember the Furry Members of Your Family
Pets need their own emergency plans and supply kits. Certain shelters won’t accept pets. Taking action in advance, such as seeking out shelters that DO accept pets, can make a difference. It’s also a good idea to plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so.
Download the FEMA mobile app
Download the FEMA mobile app for disaster resources, weather alerts and safety tips. Available in English and Spanish, this app provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips and weather alerts from the National Weather Service.
For more tips on how to prepare for disasters, visit Ready.gov.
All Preparedness Hurricane
PHILADELPHIA, PA – Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), a non-profit organization that organizes values-based education programs and community outreach projects nationwide, has deployed a volunteer response team to support the City of Philadelphia, FEMA, and other government partners at the Center City Vaccination Center (CCVC). This site is equipped to deliver up to 6,000 doses of the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine each day. It is the second federally supported community vaccination center in the nation to benefit from HSS’s assistance. Sewa International and 25 organizations of the Indian American community in the greater Philadelphia region are working closely with HSS to offer support.
HSS has named their campaign “Sewa With FEMA.” Sewa is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning “selfless service.” HSS’s on-site coordinator, Sachin Dabade, said, “It involves acting selflessly and helping others without any reward or personal gain, based on their Hindu faith and motto, ‘The whole world is one family.’” Sewa and HSS have deployed 351 volunteers logging 2400 hours of support at the CCVC and 21 volunteers providing 98.5 hours at the Esperanza Community Vaccination Center.
Now more than ever, Sewa and HSS volunteers are impassioned to invest in U.S. vaccination efforts as India’s COVID-19 case rates rapidly increase and its supply of oxygen tanks and medical resources decrease.
“They are incredibly eager to be here, and they have the drive to volunteer for a community that some of them are not even a part of,” said Justice Colbert, emergency management specialist at FEMA Region III. “They show up ready to help Philadelphians with a positive attitude,” and learn everything they can about emergency management so they can transfer their skills to future disaster deployments, she said.
More than one dozen Indian American volunteers arrive daily to provide non-clinical support at the vaccination center, such as wheelchair escort assistance and traffic control.
“We are honored to serve in this national cause of ending the COVID-19 pandemic and sincerely thank the FEMA Region III team for giving us an opportunity to serve our brothers and sisters in Philadelphia,” said Mukund Kute, president of PA East Division of HSS. “We have distributed $55,000 worth of PPE Kits, food and masks since early April 2020. We will continue to support FEMA until we beat COVID-19.”
“Whether during response, recovery, mitigation, or preparedness, voluntary organizations bring many unique resources and assets to help communities and individuals,” said Janice Barlow, Acting Regional Administrator for FEMA Region 3. “Our country’s volunteer organizations have provided organized services to those affected by disasters and public health emergencies, beginning with our nation’s first volunteer fire department established by Benjamin Franklin, right here in Philadelphia, in 1736. The contributions of volunteer organizations, like Sewa, are invaluable assets at the two federally supported Community Vaccination Centers in Philadelphia and across FEMA Region 3.”
Interagency cooperation which includes community-based organizations like local voluntary organizations, provides valuable insight to inform operational decisions before, during and after FEMA’s response missions. Engaging with voluntary organizations is critical to representing local perspectives and needs specific to communities that otherwise may not be obvious to external entities such as FEMA. Vaccine guests coming to the community vaccination centers appreciate seeing friendly faces with that local perspective.
To learn more about HSS/Sewa’s vaccination mission “Sewa With FEMA” visit:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/IndoAmericans4CovidRelief
HSS and SEWA International are one of several volunteer organizations supporting the COVID-19 response in Philadelphia. They are working closely with Team Rubicon, another trusted partner organization of FEMA.
To volunteer with HSS’s FEMA Drive “Sewa With FEMA”:https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0C48AEA72FA4F8C07-sewa
Caption: Sewa volunteers conduct community outreach by canvassing in neighborhoods across Philadelphia to spread awareness about the Esperanza Community Vaccination Center and Center City Vaccination Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Heather Anderson/FEMA)
Caption: Sewa volunteers work alongside other volunteer organizations, like Team Rubicon, as well as the Pennsylvania National Guard to support the Center City Vaccination Center (Photo by Heather Anderson/FEMA).
Caption: A Sewa volunteer manages traffic control at the state-run, federally-supported Center City Community Vaccination Center in the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. (Photo by Heather Anderson/FEMA
Caption: A Sewa volunteer assists a community member at the Center City Vaccination Center. (Photo by Heather Anderson/FEMA)Region 3 Pennsylvania 4506 Coronavirus Pandemic COVID-19 Vaccine Volunteers
PHILADELPHIA, PA – Since the opening of Philadelphia’s two city-managed and FEMA-supported community vaccination centers (CVC), the City has provided various accommodations to ensure equitable access to community members. This includes the provision of access and functional need considerations, such as wheelchairs and language translators, among them, American Sign Language (ASL) and deaf interpreters. These accommodations are intended to reduce vaccine hesitancy and make the process smooth and accessible for everyone.
On Saturday, May 1, the Esperanza Community Vaccination Center (ECVC) hosted Deaf Vaccination Day to increase awareness of the daily availability of ASL and deaf interpreters as well as Spanish-speaking deaf interpreters. More than 20 members from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community attended, many of whom cited the presence of interpreters alleviated their anxiety about the ease of the process. Those who spoke languages other than English were also pleased by the availability of translators to guide them through the process, a sentiment shared by non-English speaking and deaf or hard of hearing patients who get vaccinated at the Center City Vaccination Center (CCVC).
Caption: Staff assist incoming patients at the Esperanza Community Vaccination Center in North Philadelphia. (Photo by Rossyveth Rey)
Translators of multiple languages are available at the CCVC and ECVC, and additional languages are available by telephone through the Language Line. Both CVCs have an assisted check-in area and process, as well as signage with directions for patients with access and functional needs. There are privacy or sensory booths on site for those who need it. The privacy booth is a place for those with noise or stimulation sensitivities, those needing to change clothes, or for those who prefer more privacy.
The lead organizer of Deaf Vaccination Day, Regional Disability Integration Specialist PJ Mattiacci, who is deaf, says “the number one goal is equitable accessibility for all programs” at FEMA. When he noticed a low attendance from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community at CVCs, he did some research and found that vaccine hesitancy was mainly due to lack of awareness that ASL and deaf interpreters are available on site to assist them through the process. He took initiative to coordinate targeted outreach to them. Partnering with several community-based and faith-based organizations, such as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania School for the Deaf to spread the word among their constituents and students, the outreach eventually expanded into a formal event.
Caption: PJ Mattiacci communicates with a staff member at the Esperanza Community Vaccination Center in North Philadelphia. (Photo by Rossyveth Rey)
“My goal is for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community to feel more a part of the community and reduce vaccine hesitancy,” said Mattiacci. “I don't want people to feel stressed about whether there will be communication available. There are interpreters and we have the right people to answer the right questions.”
Caption: The Pennsylvania National Guard assists with patient registration and vaccine administration at the Esperanza Community Vaccination Center in North Philadelphia. (Photo by Rossyveth Rey)
FEMA’s Office of Disability Integration and Coordination (DIC) helps deliver the agency’s shared mission of helping people before, during and after disasters in ways that maximize the inclusion of, and accessibility for, people with disabilities. This is ensured by providing federal, state, local, tribal and territorial governments, the public sector and non-profit organizations with the tools, training, resources and strategies necessary to help ensure that people with disabilities can participate in, and benefit from, programs and services during all phases of emergency management.
“We develop strategies to promote the integration of the needs of people with disabilities into the design and implementation of new programs, as well as identifying potential barriers to access and developing strategies to eliminate those barriers,” said Janice Barlow, Acting Region 3 Administrator. The DIC’s External Civil Rights Division “requires that FEMA and its recipients ensure nondiscrimination for individuals with disabilities by providing equal access to programs, physical accessibility of facilities, effective communication, and reasonable accommodations.”
Caption: Staff at Esperanza Community Vaccination Center stand outside the clinic where signage in multiple languages is posted for patients who speak languages other than English. (Photo by Rossyveth Rey)Region 3 Pennsylvania Coronavirus Pandemic COVID-19 Vaccine
On Jan. 20, President Biden set the goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days.
Since then, FEMA has worked with our partners to build 1,732 new community vaccination centers, deploy 9,096 staff across the nation and provide more than $4.75 billion in support of vaccination efforts.
Today marks 100 days — and over 200 million shots in arms.
These efforts transcended the numbers. To ensure that everyone who wants a shot can get one, FEMA worked to make sure that equity was part of the action plan.
We deployed civil rights advisors to help with community engagement, provided language and American Sign Language interpretation and, when choosing new vaccination sites, made sure disability integration advisors were part of the conversation. To reach more remote areas, we put some vaccination centers on wheels or used pop-up centers that could be moved.
Funding was able to make a difference in helping our partners with vaccination efforts. We provided $4.75 billion to 46 states, six tribes, five territories and the District of Columbia. We also provided funding to nonprofits, faith-based organizations and government entities that provide shelter, food, transportation, COVID-19 testing and medical care.
On April 12, we began providing funeral assistance. We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many families. FEMA is dedicated to helping ease some of this financial stress and burden by providing financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020. As of this week, we have supported impacted families by approving more than $2.1 million in funeral assistance.
With the help of our partners, FEMA exceeded the goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days by putting 213 million shots in arms. The work we did with our partners allowed us to combine the personnel, resources and funding needed to meet this goal and to better protect our nation against COVID-19.
This work is the foundation for what is to come in the months ahead. Watch the video below or visit the Vaccine Support page to learn more about our continued efforts.
See what our federal partners are saying about our joint efforts:Graphic Graphic Graphic Graphic All Headquarters Coronavirus Pandemic COVID-19 Vaccine
Flood insurance rates can be costly and difficult to understand. FEMA is working to change that with the new pricing methodology: Risk Rating 2.0 – Equity in Action. The new rating system is easy to understand, equitable and better reflects a property’s unique flood risk.
You may already know that just a single inch of floodwater can cause $25,000 in damage to your home. Understanding the risk your own property faces and how much coverage you need, is more complex. Risk Rating 2.0 – Equity in Action breaks down this information and helps you make informed decisions about protecting your property.
You can expect to see these changes as soon as Oct. 1, 2021. New flood insurance policies will be subject to the new rating methodology. Existing National Flood Insurance Program policyholders who are eligible for renewal will also be able to take advantage of immediate decreases in their premiums. On April 1, 2022, Equity in Action will be fully implemented and all remaining existing policies will be included in the new rating methods.
In the meantime, you may want to learn about the sources of flooding in your area, see how your rates may change and figure out what you can do to potentially reduce your flood insurance premiums.
The best place to start is to review the Risk Rating 2.0 State Profiles. These 51 profiles — one for each state and the District of Columbia — give you a bird’s-eye view of if and how much premiums may go up or down and how communities and individuals can reduce flood risk in their state.
Here are six ways you and your community can take action to reduce your flood risk:
- Review your state’s Risk Rating 2.0 State Profile. Take the time to read up on the changes coming to your state and learn more about how you can take mitigation actions on your property to reduce flood damage, and possibly reduce flood insurance premiums.
- Move machinery and equipment to a higher floor. Moving your heating and air conditioning compressor or hot water system to a higher level can help to reduce costly replacement and repairs after a flood.
- Install flood openings. These flood openings are intended to equalize pressure on walls caused by standing or slow-moving water.
- Elevate your home. Elevating structures above known flood levels prevents and reduces loss.
- Check to see if your community participates in the Community Rating System. If not, encourage community leaders to take the necessary steps to join this voluntary incentive program that helps policyholders in their area save an average of $162 a year on their flood insurance policy.
- Apply for Hazard Mitigation Assistance. A local community can apply for one of these grants on behalf of homeowners and businesses in their area. These grants fund projects such as the acquisition of hazard prone homes and businesses, which enables owners to relocate to safer areas, or elevation of structures above known flood levels to prevent and reduce damage.
For more information on Risk Rating 2.0 – Equity in Action and what has and has not changed, visit the Risk Rating 2.0 homepage.All Flood Mitigation Assistance Hazard Mitigation Flood Flood Insurance Grants
The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on life around the country. To stem the tide in the battle against this deadly virus, we have had to change how we go about our daily lives. One of the biggest changes has been the need to reduce or eliminate contact with our family, friends and neighbors, something especially challenging for our elderly or those who find themselves homebound. Reducing contact also has been difficult for those in rural communities where neighbors are used to coming together to support each other during difficult times.
Now that we have vaccines available to everyone 16 and older, there is a brighter forecast on the horizon. But an important part of the solution is for everyone to have the opportunity to receive a vaccination. Our partners in North Dakota and South Dakota have done an outstanding job in making the shots available, and we are seeing an increasing number of individuals vaccinated.
FEMA has supported state, tribal and local vaccination efforts. We are expanding those efforts by partnering with the Indian Health Service Great Plains Area office and 11 tribal nations to deploy two Mobile Vaccination Units that will visit tribal communities and some nearby larger cities with large tribal populations. These mobile units will travel to communities that may have limited access to health care facilities or pharmacies providing the vaccine. Rather than requiring individuals to travel for the vaccine, we are bringing the shots directly to them.
These mobile units do not require advance appointments so are readily available to everyone, even those without internet service. Residents can walk in, wait their turn and receive their shot. Our goal is to make the process as simple and convenient as possible.
Following a disaster, FEMA looks to help get communities back on their feet. The response to the pandemic has been no different. Ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to get these critical vaccines is a vital step in bringing our communities together once again.
Nancy Dragani is the Acting Administrator for FEMA Region 8, which serves Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming, along with the 29 tribal nationals within those states.
Region 8 North Dakota South Dakota COVID-19 Vaccine
On Earth Day each year, we are reminded to appreciate the earth’s environment and the issues that threaten it. A key part of the work FEMA does to create greener, more sustainable communities is implementing nature-based solutions to preventing damage from future disasters and rebuilding after them. These solutions weave natural features or processes into the built environment. The goal is to create a world that works with nature, not against it.
There are many communities that have made the earth greener through FEMA pre-disaster and post-disaster mitigation grants. The grants help communities with projects such as using solar power as back up energy, building stormwater parks and creating defensible spaces.
One award-winning project, the Virginia Wetland Protection Project, focused on installing rock breakwaters to protect the shoreline. It restored 25 acres of marsh through the planting of native seedlings and other plant material. The restored wetland served as a buffer zone for the Galveston Causeway and helps to protect the nearby industrial wastewater treatment facility. You can read more about these type of projects in FEMA’s Mitigation Action Portfolio.
There are many steps you can take in your own community to help create more green space. Here are four ways you can take action to make your living or working space greener and more sustainable.
Defensible Space Using Succulents
If you live in areas prone to wildfires, your home should have defensible space to give firefighters the greatest possible opportunity to stop fires. Defensible space is about the placement and spacing of your plants in the landscape and especially the maintenance of your landscaping. Succulents are some of the best plants to add to your property to create that defensible space. This is because they are good at storing water and have low levels of oil and extensive roots.
A rain garden is a shallow, vegetated basin that collects and absorbs runoff from rooftops, sidewalks and streets. Rain gardens can be added around homes and businesses to reduce and treat stormwater runoff.
A green roof is fitted with a planting medium and vegetation. A green roof reduces runoff by soaking up rainfall. It can also reduce energy costs for cooling the building. Intensive green roofs, which have deeper soil, are more common on commercial buildings. Extensive green roofs, which have shallower soil, are more common on residential buildings.
Solar power, while not entirely nature- based, can generate renewable energy. This solution helps fulfil low carbon energy needs through production methods originating from natural sources. Installing solar panels can provide both carbon emission and electricity cost savings.
To find more ways you and your community can make a difference, check out the guide Building Community Resilience with Nature-Based Solutions. Visit EarthDay.org to read more about how you can celebrate the earth.
All Mitigation Hazard Mitigation Sustainability Mitigation Planning
FEMA Reservist and Creative Services Manager Joe Castel is deployed to support COVID-19 response efforts. Castel shares how the Klamath Tribal Health and Family Services in Oregon is making a difference in the fight against COVID-19.
The Klamath Tribal Health and Family Services in Klamath Falls, Oregon, received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from the State of Oregon in late December, around the same time the tribe suffered its first COVID-19 death.
This fatality was a warning to act quickly to stop the pandemic from taking any more tribal members. Misty Wadzeck, nurse supervisor for Klamath Tribal Health and Family Services, estimated there are more than 2,500 high-risk tribal members out of 5000 tribal members, 500 of whom have multiple risk factors.
Front line workers at the health center were given the opportunity to get vaccinated first. Then those 65 years of age and older with underlying conditions were selected to receive the vaccine.
When the staff made outreach calls to their patients to let them know vaccines were available, Wadzeck stated that they encountered hesitancy from many elders about receiving the vaccine. “We heard a lot of concerns that the vaccine was manufactured too fast and that there was going to be long-term side effects that hadn't been determined yet, because it was a brand-new vaccine,” recalled Wadzeck.
“And then we also heard some of the big myths that have been all over the media, like ‘This is going to change my DNA.’ ‘This will give me COVID.’ ‘This has microchips in it.’ We heard a lot of things like that,” said Wadzeck.
In order to counter the misinformation , Wadzeck and her team launched a pro-vaccine campaign through social media and also sent emails with critical information to their patients, including their partner organizations. The messaging focused on myths vs. facts to help clear up the misinformation.
One of Wadzeck’s first strategies for combating the misinformation was coming up with numerous phrases to grab tribal members’ attention on social media. They also adopted the name “Vaccine Warriors” to describe their health team’s mission.Graphic
One post included a colorful and stylized eye-catching graphic with a cartoon android declaring, “No, the COIVD-19 Vaccine doesn't have microchips!” Then it lists what the vaccine is made up of, “mRNA lipids and other ingredients for stability)”.
The tribal elders biggest concern was, “‘Hey, we're not going to be a test for this.’"
“So, one of the best things we could show is that we believed in the vaccine and that the tribal members weren't being used as guinea pigs,” said Wadzeck.
They made sure that all the healthcare providers that were recommending the vaccine had also been vaccinated. “We took pictures of ourselves getting the vaccine and wrote stories about our experiences with it, including any unpleasant side effects,” explained Wadzeck. “When I had a fever of 103 after my vaccine, I was honest about it. And I said, ‘I promised you that I would be honest. Here it is.’”
Another issue the clinic staff encountered from elder patients is that they weren’t going to take the vaccination if their non-tribal spouses couldn’t. The clinic then opened up their vaccination program to non-tribal spouses.
As a sovereign nation, the Klamath Tribes are not obligated to follow Oregon’s specific vaccine rollout phases. The Klamath Tribes’ ability to establish a vaccination distribution plan that addresses the needs of the tribe and of its members was critical given the increased risk Native people have of contracting COVID-19 and experiencing more severe cases.
To date, more than 3,000 doses have been administered. The health center still provides 100 to 200 vaccinations weekly, with once a month 200-vaccintion clinics, and will continue until everyone who wants a vaccine is fully vaccinated. “I do believe that receiving the vaccine from the state has been very beneficial in our roll out, they have been great partners with us, and meeting our needs for our population and our strategic initiatives,” said Wadzeck.
The tribe now has opened vaccine eligibility to tribal members 18 years and older. Wadzeck revealed that the tribe’s younger generation has taken the opportunity to get vaccinated.
“A world without COVID,” is what Wadzeck said she dreams of, it’s been her affirmation throughout the process and part of her savvy vaccination campaign to bring her fellow tribal members into the clinic to defeat COVID, one shot in the arm at a time.
Follow FEMA Region 10 on Twitter, LinkedIn and the COVID-19 photo and video library for the latest updates. Visit FEMA's Vaccine Support page for more information on how FEMA is supporting vaccine distribution.All Pandemic COVID-19 Vaccine Tribes