This Is Where Social Design Shines
As Maryland, and the nation, move away from mass COVID-19 vaccination center to focus on smaller, targeted community efforts, Baltimore City is steps ahead of the rest of the country. The VALUE Program, while working through a design lens with help from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) Center for Social Design, has spent months collaborating with 10 identified populations. Over this time, they’ve held listening sessions, trained paid peer ambassadors trusted within these groups, co-designed informational materials tailored to each community’s needs and set up neighborhood-based vaccination clinics.
VALUE Baltimore is focused on carefully crafted approaches based on guidance and feedback from the identified communities themselves, who know better than anyone what they need. “To reach population immunity in Baltimore we have to get creative,” said Becky Slogeris, associate director of the Center for Social Design. “This is where social design shines – working interdisciplinarily with partners in public health, digging deep to better understand barriers to vaccine access and acceptance, and ultimately co-designing solutions that empower Baltimore residents to make their own decisions around vaccination.” Examples include: specially designed merch as a vaccine incentive; paired resources, like a diaper drive, to provide necessities for the pregnant and lactating population; going beyond the standard five languages to translate material so every immigrant community is represented; and creating accessible materials for people with disabilities. The partnership harnesses the creative problem solving skills of MICA’s Center for Social Design, the medical and research knowledge of the Baltimore City Health Department and Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center and the community ties of Morgan State University to connect with communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 or with barriers to vaccine access.