Within the blueprint of a Modern United Way, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion means championing equity in the community and operationalizing equity within your organization through practice, policy and an equity minded culture. As trusted sources of information, and as many of you provide access to vaccines, consider how you can leverage your role with regard to equity. As COVID-19 vaccine distribution continues and expands to larger segments of the population, state reported data continues to raise concerns about disparities in vaccinations for Black and Hispanic people. Ensuring equitable access to the vaccines will be important to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic for underserved populations, prevent widening disparities going forward, and achieve broad population immunity. Moreover, the federal government is implementing a range of approaches to expand vaccine access— including direct distribution through community health centers — with a particular focus on reaching underserved areas and communities hardest hit by the pandemic.
How can we elevate our role in vaccine access and equity?
- Many states have established call centers or provided text options to facilitate access to vaccine appointments for people who may not be able to navigate online sign-up systems. If you are providing this service in your area, thank you and keep up with the great work! If you are not involved directly, help raise awareness of this resource amongst your callers.
- Collaborate with and support community-based organizations and health centers to conduct outreach, communication, and education in your area. Some states are deliberately locating vaccine clinics in underserved areas. Engage with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC’s) in vaccine education and access. FQHC’s are community-based and patient-directed organizations that deliver affordable, accessible, quality, and cost-effective primary health care to medically underserved communities and disproportionately affected populations.
- Work with local leaders, community and faith-based groups to launch vaccination communication campaigns, with a focus on reaching people of color and other groups who may face heightened barriers to vaccination. In addition to ensuring individuals have access to the vaccine, making sure people receive clear information that explains how and when they can obtain the vaccine and addresses any concerns or questions individuals may have about the vaccine is also important. Moreover, it is key for this information to be provided in culturally appropriate ways through trusted messengers.
- Here are a few resources to aid in starting these conversations: