Pharmacist Brings Vaccines to Beloved International Art Event

Pharmacist Lisa Bade with her children at ArtPrize 2022 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Bade and pharmacy colleagues vaccinated community members at the Immunize at ArtPrize pop-up clinic. .

Pharmacist Lisa Bade with her children at ArtPrize 2022 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Bade and pharmacy colleagues vaccinated community members at the Immunize at ArtPrize pop-up clinic.

Over the course of several cool September days in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Lisa Bade, PharmD, had conversations with countless attendees of a major public art event known as ArtPrize, where she and her pharmacy colleagues from SpartanNash, a food wholesale and grocery retail company, were administering COVID-19 and annual influenza vaccines.

Regardless of whether patients were 5 or 85 years old, Bade, who is a Pharmacy Clinical Care Coordinator for SpartanNash in Grand Rapids, empathetically looked them in the eyes, listened carefully to their questions and concerns, and addressed each person with compassion and respect.

When fretful children who didn’t want to get vaccinated would arrive at the SpartanNash Immunize at ArtPrize pop-up clinic at the community event—accompanied by their sometimes equally apprehensive parent or guardian—Bade would kneel down to the children’s level and attentively ask, “What questions do you have for me?”

“I strive to communicate and connect with each child—speaking with them while also speaking with their parent or guardian. I patiently work to build their trust, encourage confidence, and validate their concerns because they are the ones receiving the vaccine,” said Bade. “I want each child to be a part of the process and then ensure that the process is positive for them.”

Addressing children directly, Bade says, can ease the anxiety of both the child and the parent or guardian. “It is important to remember that children are full of emotions, ideas, and thoughts. They are constantly taking in the world around them, watching us, and learning from every interaction.”

Bade, a Grand Rapids native who has attended ArtPrize many times since its inception in 2009, conceived the idea of Immunize at ArtPrize, through which SpartanNash immunization-certified pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy interns educate and immunize people attending the international art competition.

“I have often made the analogy of the COVID-19 vaccine being like any new technology. There are those who will wait in line, outside, overnight for the new technology and those who are open to the new technology if it is easy to use, accessible, and takes minimal effort to seek out,” Bade said.

It was this latter group that Bade wanted to reach: attendees of ArtPrize who wouldn’t be opposed to getting the vaccine if the opportunity were right in front of them. The idea proved to be a success with over 500 people immunized against COVID-19 and influenza at ArtPrize 2022—nearly 2 years after COVID-19 vaccines first became available.

“Immunize at ArtPrize allowed us to break down a lot of the barriers to access,” Bade said, “like getting to a pharmacy or doctor’s office to get a vaccine.”

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The event turned up so many people who were willing to receive the vaccines—but simply hadn’t—that Bade and her colleagues plan to return with COVID-19 and annual influenza vaccine again this fall to immunize attendees of ArtPrize 2023.

Immunize at ArtPrize is just one among many channels through which Bade continues to vaccinate patients of all ages. She is dedicated to immunizing people throughout the community by organizing, promoting, managing, and facilitating vaccine clinics in workplaces, schools, and ambulatory care practice settings.

While Bade is passionate about helping keep everyone in her community up to date with vaccines, she believes her efforts to win over those who are hesitant are especially important.

“Vaccine confidence is built upon an understanding of how a vaccine works to protect us—as well as its safety and effectiveness,” Bade said. “To promote this, we need to take time to listen and respond to concerns and misinformation, be transparent, communicate clearly, and empower everyone to make their own decision. We need to start to rebuild confidence in immunizations as a whole, and we are in a great position with children. Working to make immunizations routine, simple, and positive will lead to generations that seek vaccines.”

Community Outreach Tools to help connect with your community through local partnerships and resources to Tailor Your Outreach to specific populations are available at APhA’s Vaccine Confident microsite.