PSRC to revive its successful Vaccine Navigator system through grant funds

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Staying up to date on COVID-19 booster vaccinations remains a priority for the senior population.

In Mercer County, the initial COVID-19 vaccination rate for adults over 65 was roughly 95% while the percentage of the same population who have received updated bivalent boosters hovers in the range of 47%, according to a press release through the Princeton Senior Resource Center (PSRC).

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That is why the recent grant award from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) is important to PSRC’s continued effort in helping older adults navigate the complexities of the vaccine scheduling system.

The funds are under NCOA’s Vaccine Uptake Initiative is a federal grant program funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living, according to the press release.

The initiative is focused on promoting community health through vaccine health for older adults. While the primary aim is to see an uptick in the administration of COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters as well as influenza vaccines among older adults, there will also be a focus on overall healthy vaccine regimens for older adults, according to the press release.

PSRC received the largest Community Action Grant to revive its effective Vaccine Navigator Program from two years ago to focus on vaccine health among older adults in the greater Princeton area.

In early 2021, the Vaccine Navigators of PSRC deployed more than 75 volunteers, speaking 13 different languages, to assist nearly 1,000 older adults navigate the complexities of the vaccine scheduling system.

This newly revised Vaccine Navigator program will re-deploy volunteers to engage one-on- one with those clients, as well as direct contact with other community residents, to encourage a healthy vaccination regimen, including Covid-19 boosters, influenza vaccines, pneumonia, and shingles vaccines when appropriate.

The Vaccine Navigator program will also include community health events, vaccine clinics, and supportive services through PSRC’s social service team. The program is currently slated to run from March through June 2024.

“I am excited to partner with NCOA to bring this focus on vaccine health for older adults to our region,” PSRC CEO Drew Dyson said, adding the PSRC looks forward to “working closely with the Princeton Health Department and other partners to continue this critical work and support their extraordinary efforts.”

NCOA President and CEO Ramsey Alwin notes that local community organizations such as
PSRC and other grantees, “are trusted messengers in their communities, and we’re proud to support their efforts to keep older adults and people with disabilities safe and healthy with the latest life-saving vaccines.”

The grant program, Vaccine Navigators, will be coordinated by PSRC’s former Director of Social Services, Sharon Hurley, who recently retired from her full-time position. In this part-time role, Sharon will continue her work with PSRC volunteers and will oversee the Vaccine Navigators. For more information, or to offer your services as a volunteer, please contact Sharon at shurley@princetonsenior.org.

PSRC is a community nonprofit where aging adults and their families find support, guidance, education, and social programs to help them navigate life transitions and continue to be active, healthy, and engaged in the community.

For more information visit https://www.princetonsenior.org/

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