Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health leads way in educating the public about COVID-19 and vaccine safety and awareness

LEBANON – Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH) has been at the forefront of educating the public about COVID-19 since early 2020 and has recently expanded its efforts to focus on vaccine safety and the continuing need for masking in some cases due to the emergence of the Delta variant. D-HH’s latest effort is an educational campaign meant to reassure and encourage the public to get vaccinated. Through a series of images showing a vaccine vial with messages such as “There’s Hope Inside” and “There’s Fun Inside,” D-HH aims to emphasize that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and will help us return to our normal lives.

“While New Hampshire and the nation have made great strides in vaccinating citizens, too many are still resisting or refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Joanne M. Conroy, MD, CEO and President of D-HH. “Science is on our side, and we know that the benefits of taking the vaccine greatly outweigh the risks. We urge those who have not yet been vaccinated to learn the facts and consider it, and of course, to continue to mask up when you are in public to protect yourself and others.”

Another area of focus for D-HH has been helping businesses educate their employees on the importance of taking the COVID-19 vaccine. Recently, Maria Padin, MD, D-HH chief medical officer, Southern New Hampshire Region, participated in a virtual event to inform and educate employees of Alene Candles of Milford, NH, and New Albany, OH, about the vaccine. Alene is one of the largest private-label candle manufacturers in the U.S., and many of its workforce are Latino, a population that is both at high risk for COVID-19 and hesitant to take the vaccine. Padin engaged in a virtual conversation based on questions submitted by the company’s 1,000-plus full-time and seasonal employees, which was recorded and disseminated to the entire workforce. Padin also responded in writing to each question in both English and Spanish. Combined with Alene Candles’ ongoing vaccine education efforts, in the first week after the video was shown to employees, they saw a seven percent increase in employees getting vaccinated.

“Businesses have been challenged by how to best address employee questions related to COVID-19 and vaccines, but when you add a language barrier and varying cultural perspectives, there’s an added layer of complexity,” said Alene Candles CEO Rod Harl. “We appreciate Dr. Padin’s willingness to help our organization navigate this challenging topic–her understanding and expertise were critical elements in informing and gaining employees’ comfort in the early days of the vaccine rollout. We are fortunate to have access to the resources of a world-class health system and grateful for their support.”

“It is important to provide information that highlights prevention and dispels myths about the vaccine, and I commend Alene for asking D-HH for assistance in helping their Spanish-speaking employees learn the facts in a way that is accessible,” Padin said.

To continue ongoing conversations on current COVID-19 issues and vaccines, in December 2020, D-HH launched “The Cure Podcast”, and continues to provide information on vaccine safety, vaccine myths, current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, frequently asked questions and more on its website at https://www.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/covid19/vaccine-updates.

D-HH has also recently concluded the second installment of its “Heads Up: Coping Through COVID-19” series on navigating the mental health challenges as a result of COVID-19. The recent eight-part series touched on various topics, including understanding the COVID-19 vaccine, the importance of exercise and social engagement on mental wellbeing, ways in which seniors can and have stayed engaged with others to avoid feeling isolated; and helping educators and students to manage the challenges of remote, in-person and hybrid learning. The series was inspired by Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s R.E.A.C.T. mental health awareness campaign led by John Broderick, senior director of External Affairs at D-H and former chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and featured D-H experts and community partners offering information, perspective and helpful resources in the bi-weekly roundtable segments.

To learn more about D-HH’s COVID-19 and vaccine information and resources, visit https://www.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/covid19.