Friday Presentation – Rovai

Dairy employee’s overcoming hesitancy to the COVID-19 vaccine: a socio-culturally responsive seminar approach

Maristela Rovai, Dairy and Food Science Department, South Dakota State University

Dr. Rovai is a Veterinarian from Brazil with a MSc & PhD degree in Veterinary with emphasis in Animal Science (Universitat Autonòma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain). Since 2014 she is an Assistant Professor / Extension Dairy Specialist at the Department of Dairy and Food Science on a tenure track at the South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. Dr. Rovai has a 30% teaching and research appointment and 70% extension.  Dr. Rovai has made a major impact on communication between dairy producers and their employees in the Midwest. She has the ability to assist dairy producers on developing farm protocols, educational trainings that include hands on and assisting with farm employee meetings.  Rovai current projects on human subjects include: Learning strategies for Dairy Farm Workers (Dairy Tool Box; HICAHS), Health assessment and knowledge of the Dairy Industry Workforce (Health Tool Box; HICAHS), COVID-19 Educational Talks (HICAHS), and Brookings Inclusive Collaborative project (Bush Foundation).

Learning objective:

  1. Participants will understand the challenges (e.g., myths, barriers) faced by dairy farm employees regarding vaccine-preventable diseases.
  2. Participants will be able to learn how successfully communicate with the Hispanic audience.

We are in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, and Hispanic dairy farm workers are within the high-risk category. Dairy farmworkers live in extended family clusters, move more often, and work closely with others. Factors such as socioeconomics, diversity in culture, immigration anxiety, cultural differences, lack of medical insurance coverage, and limited English proficiency put Hispanic population in a challenging position which significantly impacts workers’ health and wellbeing. Historically, Hispanics are less likely to trust vaccines and to get vaccinated. As vaccine hesitancy (e.g., beliefs, barriers) associated with COVID-19 vaccination among Hispanics continue, the vaccination required a targeted outreach educational approach. The importance of trustworthy information and dialogue are essential in achieving the vaccination goal. We designed a pilot innovative model on improving dairy farmworker health knowledge and wellbeing through a 20 min. educational talk about the COVID-19 vaccination facts and myths. The seminar session was conducted face to face at their workplaces, generally around lunch or at start/end of work shifts.

Presenters will share the educational approach and specific examples of how employees have benefited from this initiative in South Dakota. Vaccines are instrumental in controlling COVID-19 and the seminar curriculum is a vital tool to maintain public health.

Study supported by HICAHS Emergency Issues (Colorado State University).

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