The policy of the pandemic is spoiling the public relations business at Fort Bend
And to top it all off, there wasn’t even the so-called white elephant in the room and that was imagination.
The white elephant was the $ 345,000 COVID-19 vaccine order.
It was actually a contract that called for the amount to be increased from $ 150,000 to $ 345,000.
The rationale for the increase in the contract amount was: “The Community Vaccine Outreach for Fort Bend County has field operations, public service announcements (PSAs) and data component costs that were not included in our original submission. Therefore, this justification is to strive for an increase in funds in order to cover the expanded project needs. The increase would support the requirements for data analysis, PSA and field service activities in order to combat vaccination resistance. “
Since the details of the contract remained confidential until approved, the public had to speculate about the definition of outreach, assuming it was a door-to-door visit to get the unvaccinated to a syringe .
Hence the debate took place between those who felt that public relations were superfluous and superfluous and those who felt that public relations was necessary because people need to get the “right information” about the vaccine.
It was a replay of the pandemic polemics that mirrored national policy on COVID-19.
In an unusual move, State Senator Lois Kolkhorst and State Representative Jacey Jetton, both Republicans, sent a letter to the Commissioners Court, essentially opposing the award of a contract to a “for-profit company”.
Two Republican commissioners Vincent Morales and Andy Meyers, who voted against the treaty, shared similar views, saying that the county’s existing nonprofit groups should be used to continue outreach.
The Democrats in Court, District Judge KP George and Commissioners Grady Prestage and Ken. R. DeMerchant has agreed to the contract.
The letter from Kolkhorst and Jetton read in part:
The world-class nonprofits that support Fort Bend have organized dozens of vaccination and educational events, and distributed information to our highest-risk communities, the very communities they have spent decades cultivating relationships and understanding in.
While we are committed to the freedoms that define America, including the right of individuals to refuse vaccinations, we want to make sure that anyone who wants to get a vaccine can do so.
We encourage the Fort Bend Commissioners to continue to work with the nonprofits that everyone in our community trusts to ensure everyone in Fort Bend has access to a COVID vaccine.
When this Commissioners Court called in for-profit, political advisory firms in response to the COVID pandemic, the non-profit organizations were directly harmed. They received less cooperation, funding and communication than in previous disasters. It was also more difficult for them to work with the consulting firms and Fort Bend than in other counties of similar size and population structure.
Third party commercial political advisory firms harm Fort Bend and the nonprofits that our venture communities trust most. We strongly encourage the Commissioners Court to oppose any further collaboration with these companies and to devote our time and energy to working with their offices and nonprofits to ensure that families in Fort Bend have access to vaccinations. “
Commissioner Meyers praised the successful vaccination efforts under the leadership of the district’s health director, Dr. Jacquelyn Minter, and suggested making full use of the mobile vaccination station to further increase the vaccination rate.
Dr. Minter explained to Meyers the motivation for awarding the contract.
“When our team was asked to consider certain suggestions for communication activities to reach the most vulnerable populations who cannot vaccinate more easily, we put together a team of three with other people in the county and that team came together and reviewed many different suggestions, ”said Dr. Minter.
One of the most important things they think the person who hooked up with the group that received the proposal would find ways to communicate effectively with the populations who want the vaccine and are unable to provide the correct information receive; So that would be multilingual information in many different languages, talking to different community groups, and seeing how to provide information to people who want it and make good decisions about getting their vaccine, ”said Dr. Minter.
District Judge George made the following statement: “As we have been told from time to time by Dr. Minter heard in this courthouse, we lead our region in terms of percentage of the population vaccinated. We are in this top category and with 860,000 people, and all of this was due to the continuous contact from various organizations, non-profit organizations and also every single one of our offices. Because of our success, Fort Ben County has almost returned to normal. We’re almost back to normal now. We are at the point where we need help. Even though we have nearly 65% of our residents 12 years and older fully vaccinated, we still have 35%, that’s more than 200,000 people out there who are not vaccinated. Life is precious. We have lost far too many lives to the coronavirus pandemic in the past 16 months. As the delta variant progressed, we learned that 99% of those who die from this aggressive variant are unvaccinated. I will repeat it again as the delta variant progresses as we have learned that 99% of those who died from this aggressive variant are unvaccinated. There is great urgency. and there is a greater urgency to do all we can to support, educate, and inform our community members, especially those most at risk in our community, so that they can make an informed decision about vaccination. Life is precious and we try to provide the community with information that is inaccessible. ”
Simply put, public outreach should aim to educate the unvaccinated about vaccination.
The county, state and health authorities have already done the same, but the justification for new efforts at Fort Bend is to target this population, mostly in the east of the county where vaccination rates are low.
However, the contract reads more complicated than the vaccine efficacy study, and the process outlined in it can take months to encourage the first person to take the vaccine.
Extracts from the contract: The services include, for example: Carrying out market research and data analysis; Define strategy; Reach, engagement and communication; and assess and measure.
The first action indicated is conducting scientific research and data analysis to identify the target audience and understand sociocultural contexts to help develop appropriate outreach strategies.
Develop multilingual toolkits to support community leaders, influencers and media partners.
• Design and coordinate multilingual press releases, PSAs, and manage PR resources to capitalize on well-deserved media opportunities
Distribute multilingual printed materials like door hangers through contactless advertising teams, direct mail, flyers and other branded materials in high traffic areas and nearby.
Develop data visualization maps of high resistance clusters across Fort Bend County.
RELAXATION SURVEY • Identify key factors of vaccination reluctance
Predictive Analysis: Disease epidemic modeling belongs to a class of differential equations known as compartmental models. Our team performs predictive analysis and modeling (like the SIR model) that predict how many people at any given point in time:
a) are susceptible to a pathogen b) are infected with that pathogen c) or have resolved the infection through full recovery or death from the disease These data will help determine the population at risk, especially when preparing for a possible recurrence of the virus once it has been successfully suppressed, ie “the second wave”.
After the research / data is complete, we will consult with the Fort Bend County Department of Health to determine the next steps and implementation details to achieve contactless public relations in the community.