Encore Intergenerational Vaccine Corps
June 1, 2021
When underserved communities were disproportionately hit by COVID-19, Encore.org saw an opportunity to help those most at risk. The organization — which brings older and younger people together to solve problems and bridge divides — launched the Encore Intergenerational Vaccine Corps, in partnership with California Volunteers.
The project mobilizes retired medical professionals and volunteers of all ages to work alongside together at nine Bay Area public health clinics serving a high-need, low-income population. Vaccine Corps members build capacity at these resource-constrained clinics by administering vaccines, supporting patients and providing community outreach.
A few months ago, California Volunteers issued a targeted email to help the Vaccine Corps recruit volunteers. The response was overwhelming, exceeding recruitment targets. Today, about 700 volunteers have raised their hands to help save lives. To help manage volunteers, California Volunteers will place five AmeriCorps members, part of the Health Action Response Team, at participating clinics.
A growing body of research shows that when older and younger generations come together to solve problems, they bring a powerful mixture of experience, innovation and energy to the table.
The Vaccine Corps creates an intentionally intergenerational team of retired medical professionals and general volunteers for good reason. A growing body of research shows that when older and younger generations come together to solve problems, they bring a powerful mixture of experience, innovation and energy to the table. While older people draw upon decades of learning and well-honed abilities to navigate complex relationships, younger peers readily embrace new technology, novelty and risk.
By bringing young and old volunteers together, they are able to solve more than just the immediate problem. The very act of multigenerational collaboration helps one generation learn more about the other and combats ageism and other prejudice. Building this understanding comes at a critical time in US history, when people over 60, a largely white population, outnumber people under 18, a much more diverse group, raising fears of widening generational and racial divides.
Funded by an AmeriCorps Seniors demonstration grant, the Encore Intergenerational Vaccine Corps was a natural outgrowth of the Encore Physicians program, launched two years ago to help solve doctor shortages at public health clinics. The retired doctors involved in the program saw the need for more medical support to deliver COVID vaccines and for nonmedical assistance with site set-up, patient flow and translation services.
Encore.org will discuss the Vaccine Corps and its other intergenerational activities at the My Turn Volunteer Workshop on Multigenerational Engagement, June 3 at noon. Sign up to attend here. To learn more about the Encore Intergenerational Vaccine Corps and Encore.org, please complete this short form.