Door-to-door canvassers in Prince George’s County, Maryland, have completed the first phase of a countywide outreach effort, having knocked on more than 95,000 doors to provide information about COVID-19 vaccines and sign residents up for appointments.
The outreach effort, which began April 22, will now launch its next phase, aiming to knock on nearly three times as many doors to reach areas that are lagging in vaccination rates, according to a county news release Thursday.
“The data from this first phase of canvassing affirms our approach that talking directly to residents, addressing their concerns, and assisting them with scheduling appointments removes barriers and increases COVID vaccination rates,” County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said in a statement.
“Making sure our residents are protected from this virus is a critical part of our County’s pandemic recovery. I’m grateful to our canvassers who have done this important work to help make our residents safer and our County’s future brighter than ever.”
Overall, the county has identified about a dozen communities that canvassers are prioritizing, based on socioeconomic status, vaccination rates and population size.
David Sloan, director of policy, planning and public affairs, told WTOP that by targeting specific communities, they will be able to take advantage of their canvassers, calling them the county’s “most precious resource.”
“Our outreach isn’t just about where you can get vaccinated and when, but also other government services, be a county, federal or local, that are available to you that people just don’t know about [like] rental assistance or opportunities for employment testing and other medical resources,” Sloan said.
The next phase of the outreach effort will see canvasses knock on more than 266,000 doors and reach the entire county via phone banking and text messages, placing more than 1.3 million calls and sending more than 500,000 texts. Canvassers are wearing bright yellow safety vests as well as masks and have ID badges reading “Prince George’s COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach Team.”
In the first phase of the door-knocking effort, canvasses helped more than 3,000 county residents register for vaccine appointments and marked down another 6,800 as committed to getting vaccinated, the county said. In addition, the canvasses connected more than 7,500 county families with information on resources, such as rental, food and employment assistance, according to the county news release.
As it stands now, Glenn Dale has the highest vaccination rate in the county — nearly 82% of residents 16 and older have received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to county data. That’s followed by Laurel at more than 75%, and Beltsville, Bowie and Greenbelt at just under 72%.
Other parts of the county lag behind. Fewer than half of residents in Temple Hills, District Heights, Suitland, Oxon Hill, Capitol Heights and Mount Rainier have received a first shot, according to the county data.
“We’ve seen communities in parts of College Park that started on our list of targets, but because of the increase in participation, they’ve come off of our targets for knocking because the ratio of vaccinated folks to unvaccinated folks improved so much throughout the course of round one,” Sloan said.
Overall, just under half of all residents in the county — about 49% — have received at least one vaccine dose compared to 65% in Montgomery County and 59% in D.C., according to Maryland state data and WTOP’s vaccination tracker.
Phase two of the county’s outreach ends on June 30, and the deadline for phase three is July 15, Sloan said. The county will refine their lists before entering each phase to “zero in” on those who need the help.
“We have just under a million folks in Prince George’s County,” Sloan said. “We want to reach every family. That’s the goal.”
Deals for the vaccinated
Separately, the Maryland Department of Commerce has launched an online tracker to let Maryland residents know about various vaccine incentives being offered by businesses across the state.
GoVAX Rewards offers deals and discounts from the Baltimore Orioles, the National Aquarium, Medieval Times, Ayers Creek Adventures and more for those who got their vaccines.
“After Ledo Pizza offered free pizzas for vaccines, we had a great response, and more of our businesses have stepped up to help get more Marylanders vaccinated,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a news release. “By providing these rewards, our businesses are paying it forward and thanking our residents for doing their part to end the pandemic.”
Among the deals being promoted: A COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Camden Yards in Baltimore this weekend, which offers fans who get vaccinated vouchers for two complimentary lower-level tickets for any game through July 11.
Medieval Times in Hanover is offering vaccinated people a 25% discount on adult and children admission tickets, which include dinner and a show. In the Maryland town of Berlin, adventurers can receive 10% off kayak or paddle board rentals at Ayers Creek Adventures, where proof of vaccination must be shown to receive the deal.
Total Recon Auto Center in Rockville is offering 10% off of any auto detailing package for vaccinated residents.
WTOP’s Ken Duffy contributed to this report.