Impatient and sceptical citizens, the ongoing shortage of vaccines, constantly changing regulations that have to be rapidly implemented – these are some of the considerable challenges facing German municipalities in their vaccination campaigns. In its campaign, the City of Krefeld relies on communication and coordination. The concept has proven successful.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, many people in Krefeld were unsure about the effectiveness and the risks of the individual vaccines. The nationwide prioritisation of particular population groups has been updated several times and repeatedly given rise to questions and widespread misunderstanding. In addition, official directives change quickly, for example those relating to the groups eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
To ensure the smooth and efficient roll-out of the vaccinations, it is important that the work of the various actors involved – the municipality and its various specialised departments, the association of statutory health insurance physicians and the medical chiefs – is well coordinated in the vaccination centres. New regulations introduced by the regional (Land) government often have to be implemented at very short notice.
The City of Krefeld wants to inform the population as well as possible about COVID-19 vaccinations while dispelling fears and raising acceptance of the vaccines on offer. It also aims to coordinate the work of all the actors involved in the vaccination campaign as effectively as possible and to strengthen cooperation between them.
Krefeld has geared its communications on vaccination specifically to the needs of the different target groups. The over 80s received an invitation to take part in the vaccination programme by post from the Lord Mayor. The municipality publishes a wide range of information on its website and through social media channels, and the Press Office responds to questions about COVID-19 on social media – in most cases within an hour. In addition, the Migration and Integration Department pays special attention to marginalised groups, for example those with poor German language skills. Social workers reach people living in social hotspots through outreach.
At the vaccination centre, all the actors involved come together for regular meetings and evaluate what is going well and where there is need for improvement. They have set up rapid communication links, for example via email groups, in order to be able to respond directly to new directives.
People in Krefeld feel well informed about the vaccination campaign. One reason is that the different target groups are specifically addressed – by post, online or through outreach in their neighbourhoods. Citizens are always clearly informed about the current priority groups for vaccination. This is reflected in the high vaccination take-up rate and the level of acceptance for the available vaccines.
The procedures in the vaccination centre are running smoothly. The different actors from the municipality and from the association of statutory health insurance physicians as well as the staff at the vaccination centre are coordinating their activities very efficiently.
To ensure the success of their vaccination campaigns, municipalities have to make targeted investments in communication and coordination. In Krefeld, the Press Office and the Migration and Integration Department play an important role in this respect. The city can also gain the trust of many people through education services like talks in retirement homes and mosques. In vaccination campaigns, it is essential that knowledge is not exclusive – all actors must always pass on important information without delay to those who need it.
Author: Susanne Reiff
German Red Cross, District Association Krefeld
+49 (0)2151 - 5396-40