At over 750,000 strong, social workers are the largest providers of mental and behavioral health services to individuals and families in the US. They serve clients in settings as diverse as healthcare, schools, community clinics, correctional facilities, and child welfare. As such, social workers have the potential to address COVID-19 hesitancy, increase confidence in vaccines, and facilitate access with clients of all ages, race/ethnicities, and geographical settings.
Engaging Social Workers in Boosting COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake is a supplemental project to the Health Behavior Research and Training Institute (HBRT) at UT-Austin’s current CDC cooperative agreement, Reaching Healthcare Professionals in the Prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, to work with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) to reduce COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and increase vaccine uptake. Utilizing knowledge gained from the Reaching Healthcare Professionals in the Prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders agreement, the supplement develops messaging to address reasons for vaccine hesitancy and provides national webinar trainings as well as virtual state chapter trainings for social workers on motivational interviewing and screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment in vaccine conversations. The project also allows for the development of a smart phone mobile application for social workers, ensuring they are armed with the appropriate messaging, skills, and technology to successfully deliver evidence-based, effective messages to increase vaccine uptake in the diverse populations that they serve.