SALINAS VALLEY — Mee Memorial Healthcare System in King City has received a federal grant to help improve Covid-19 vaccine confidence throughout its service area in southern Monterey County, spanning more than 55 miles between Soledad and Bradley.
Health Resources and Services Administration provided the grant through the Rural Health Clinics Vaccine Confidence Program in August. The program is a federal initiative to counter vaccine hesitancy in rural communities where the Covid-19 vaccine uptake has lagged in comparison to more populated areas.
Grant awards were based on the number of certified clinic sites operated by the health organizations.
The Mee Memorial network includes a hospital in King City and three comprehensive outpatient clinics; two adjacent to the hospital and the Albert and Donna Oliveira Clinic in Greenfield.
Mee Memorial plans to use a portion of the grant to hire a vaccination assistant and another portion to create and install three billboards along the Highway 101 corridor, where much of its patient population travels to and from work. Billboards would be installed from Soledad to San Ardo to get the vaccination message out, as part of the effort to increase educational outreach around benefits and safety.
In addition to commercial billboard space, Mee Memorial has partnered with the King City Lions Club to rent its prominent billboard space near the King City Golf Course.
“The promotion is to feature members of the community that have been vaccinated and appeal to those who might still be unvaccinated and/or are vaccine hesitant,” Mee Memorial stated in a news release. “The plan is to feature diverse members of the community who support and model getting vaccinated.”
One billboard concept is “Together we can do it,” a riff off the Rosie the Riveter campaign from World War II, with various leaders, representatives and influencers from the South Monterey County community. A children’s theme is also planned based on superheroes, with a “Take that, Covid. I’m vaccinated!” message.
According to Mee Memorial, participants so far include Monterey County Supervisor Chris Lopez of Greenfield and a number of community members, patients, teens and children.
With the new superhero theme, Mee Memorial announced its first pediatric vaccine clinic will take place Saturday, Nov. 13, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the King City Clinic, 210 Canal St.
Walk-ins will be limited, so vaccine appointments for children ages 5 to 11 are encouraged via the state website myturn.ca.gov.