PJ Sin Suela
In October 2021, Puerto Rico led the nation in vaccination rates. At the time, about 57% of Americans were fully vaccinated; in Puerto Rico, the rate was more than 73%. Much of the credit for that high rate goes to the implementation of a Municipal Case Investigation and Contact Tracing System by the Health Department of the Puerto Rico, alliances with stakeholders to promote access to vaccines, and the successful community engagement strategies, including work by the Puerto Rico CEAL research team.
“Historically, Puerto Rico has been receptive to vaccines and physician recommendations regarding their health, so we knew that the first vaccine would be greatly accepted, and for the most part, it was,” says Vivian Colón-López, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus, and Lead Investigator at the UPR Comprehensive Cancer Center.
However, as the pandemic wore on, information fatigue set in. Even people eager to get their first doses were not always following through with getting their booster shots. The CEAL research team needed a strong, trusted voice to capture attention.
“We wanted to give a call to action to people who had received the primary doses of the vaccine also to get the booster and inspire their friends and family to do the same,” says Adriana Del Mar Pons, M.S., who coordinates the Puerto Rico CEAL community outreach team.