In addition to informing people about pre-registration, Laughon said volunteers from UVa’s medical schools also can help people register and can also answer a few basic medical questions about the vaccine.
“They aren’t giving medical advice, but they’re able to answer questions about seasonal allergies and they’re able to sensitively address vaccine hesitancy,” Laughon said. “Though we could train folks to do this, we felt like this group of students in particular would be already most of the way there.”
One of the biggest hurdles facing the phone bank was how to get the phone numbers of residents of Albemarle County and Charlottesville. With no central database at the health district, Cowger said they were provided access to voter databases from Del. Sally Hudson, D-Charlottesville, and Jennifer Kitchen, who is running for the 25th District seat.
These databases are regularly used by campaigns to more effectively canvas and contain and a huge number of phone numbers, Hudson said, something she was happy to share.
“As we got to talking to things, the conversation came around to how we can help people who are not comfortable doing the process on the web,” Hudson said. “We figured we’d need to do it over the phone, or maybe go to the person and I started thinking, ‘Well, it sounds like you need to make a lot of calls and knock a lot of doors, and anyone who’s run for office knows how to do that.’”