Achieving Vaccine Equity: Resources & Best Practices to Bringing Down Barriers

Find tools, resources and best practices to support your community’s efforts in addressing barriers in accessing vaccines—including ease of access, a desire for more and culturally-relevant information, and the need to hear from a trusted messenger.

COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic in farm

Structural and systemic barriers mean that the people who are hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic—including Black and brown people, immigrants and essential workers—have less access to vaccines.

But we know what works. We can can reach underserved communities and address systematic obstacles by investing in trusted community experts, organizations and networks; using culturally resonant primary language materials and outreach; and bringing down barriers to accessing vaccines.

Health care providers and public health share the responsibility to reach all communities and specifically address these barriers. To help support and guide vaccine equity efforts in your community, explore resources and best practices from PHI and our programs.

Bringing Vaccine Equity Access to Californians

See how our Together Toward Health is supporting COVID and vaccine equity

elderly man getting COVID-19 vaccine
  • 435 CBOs serving as trusted messengers to reach their neighbors
  • 194 awards to churches, community centers, coalitions and more
  • $27.5M committed to support COVID and vaccine equity access

Best practices & resources to guide vaccine equity

  • Video: How to discuss racial equity in vaccine uptake (11/10/2021): To help ensure equitable vaccination rates in all neighborhoods, public health advocates and practitioners must center communities of color in their messages. Being silent on racism allows vaccine opponents to invoke medical oppression in their communication, stoking further division, hesitancy, and distrust. This video, the third in a series from BMSG, offers strategic communication tips for advancing racial and health equity in immunizations.
  • Fresno Teens Fighting COVID Misinformation in the Latino Community (10/4/2021): In Fresno, California, vaccine uptake among eligible youth continues to be lower than other groups. Now a first-of-its kind program for high school students is training them as junior community health workers or “promoteritos,” so teens can help dispel misinformation about COVID-19 and encourage their peers, relatives and neighbors to get vaccinated. The program is co-coordinated by Together Toward Health grantee Cultiva La Salud. Susan Watson of PHI’s Together Toward Health program comments on the role of teens as trusted health care messengers.
  • Vaccine Equity Strategy Series: Concrete Best Practices and Ideas for Communities (9/26/2021): PHI’s Vaccine Equity Strategy Series provides short, actionable advice and best practices to guide your community’s efforts to advance vaccine access and equity, including: how to create and distribute materials in primary languages; how to create gender-affirming spaces for transgender, gender nonconforming and gender nonbinary people; strategies to improve access for people who use sign language to communicate; and more.
  • Talking about Breakthrough Infections: Recommendations for Public Health Practitioners (8/12/2021): Get messaging guidelines, useful metaphors and analogies, and sample talking points that address questions about breakthrough cases, while still reinforcing critical strategies like vaccinations and wearing masks.
  • Video: Communicating about vaccines: Investing in trusted messengers (8/12/2021): In the first video in a series, from PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group, find strategic communication tips to help public health advocates and practitioners communicate with the public in ways that foster trust.
  • Video: Reaching Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islanders in Vaccine Distribution (6/17/2021): In this Vaccine Equity video, from PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California Vaccine Equity Video Series, hear from Isabella Lesa, Community Health Worker with the Utah County Health Department and Jake Fitisemanu, Co-Founder and Board Member of the Utah Pacific Islander Coalition and Program Manager with the Utah State Department of Health, as they discuss the importance of disaggregated data and culturally grounded efforts in reaching NHPI community members in vaccine distribution.
Screenshot of the first video in PHI's Vaccine Equity Strategy series: Providing vaccines at work

Join PHI for #VaxEquityThurs

How can public health and medical practitioners partner with communities to address the systemic, structural challenges that prevent people from accessing vaccines? What are best practices to build relationships and trust with local experts, organizations and networks in order to find creative solutions to bring down barriers?

Tune in for #VaxEquityThurs each Thursday on Twitter at 10am PT / 1pm ET, where we'll be sharing best practices, strategies and guidance on how you can boost vaccine equity efforts in your community. Our first tip: Bring vaccine clinics directly to workplaces, making it convenient for people to get vaccinated without needing to take time off.

See more

  • Videos: Watch these videos from PHI’s WeVax + LA to hear trusted doctors, from Los Angeles County Medical Association (LACMA), and community members discuss vaccine safety and equity.

  • ADA National Network Learning Session: Disability Inclusion and Considerations in Vaccination Centers and Operations (6/10/2021): This session, from PHI’s Pacific ADA Center,  discussed accessibility considerations for vaccination centers centered primarily around physical accessibility, communication access, and programmatic access including staff training and information sharing. Vaccination sites come in all sizes and this discussion will highlight mega sites, and will focus around the sites in Los Angeles, California; mobile vaccination missions through large cities and remote routes; and fixed facilities in Nevada and Washington.

St. Louis Health Department & Housing Authority Partnership (3/29/2021)

Discover how the City of St. Louis Health Dept. partnered with the St. Louis Housing Authority to help register hard hit communities for COVID-19 vaccination. In St. Louis, data from a January 2021 survey revealed that of 17,000 individuals who registered their interest in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, less than 3,000 were from under-resourced and low-income neighborhoods such as North St. Louis.

Watch Video 4

Improving Vaccination Accessibility for Individuals Living with Disabilities (4/16/2021)

Watch how health leaders from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Center for Health Equity—in partnership with key community stakeholders with lived experience and organizations that serve communities with disabilities—have developed and are working to implement a set of core recommendations to improve access to COVID-19 vaccinations for individuals living with disabilities.

Watch Video 5

Creating Safe and Affirming Spaces for Vaccine Distribution (5/13/2021)

Watch Hieu Nguyen, Director of the Orange County Health Care Agency Office of Population Health & Equity, and Khloe Rios Wyatt, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alianza Translatinx, discuss the importance of creating safe, inclusive, affirming spaces for transgender, gender non-conforming and gender non-binary community members in COVID-19 vaccination distribution and administration.

Watch Video 6

  • Transparency: Rolling out the COVID-19 Vaccine (5/6/2021): Trust and trustworthiness are a significant part of achieving equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Tune in to hear from moderator Dr. Mary Pittman, PHI CEO & President, and speakers—including Dr. Bechara Choucair, Vaccinations Coordinator for the White House COVID Response Team, responsible for overseeing the national vaccination efforts under the Biden-Harris administration—to learn how policymakers, health care providers, pharmacies, and community-based organizations can build trust, address population-specific needs, leverage trusted community resources and more.
  • Strategy: Bringing Vaccine Clinics to Faith Congregations (4/23/2021): PHI’s Together Toward Health (TTH) funds outreach efforts in 300+ organizations in communities across the state that have been hard-hit by COVID and are under-reached by vaccine and prevention efforts. CBS Sacramento profiles how TTH and the state are partnering with 200 faith-based organizations to provide more than 25,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses at pop-up clinics right in neighborhood places of worship.
  • Webinar Recording: Vaccine Access for People with Disabilities: Guidance, Funding, Strategies, and Best Practices (4/22/2021): Watch this webinar recording from PHI’s Pacific ADA Center to hear Alison Barkoff and HHS’s Office for Civil Rights Acting Director Robinsue Frohboese discuss information on guidance, funding, strategies and best practices related to vaccine access for people with disabilities.
  • Webinar Recording: Partnering with Communities to Navigate Equitable Vaccine Access (3/25/2021): In this CDC Foundation webinar recording, community leaders and experts share strategies to address the concerns and needs of communities and overcome challenges of getting people vaccinated. PHI’s Susan Watson shares early lessons learned from our Together Toward Health initiative, which is investing in over 270 local community-based organizations that serve as trusted experts for education, testing and vaccination access in communities most impacted by COVID-19. Get guidance on building on-the-ground collaborations with local organizations, ideas for reaching rural populations including farmworkers, and strategies for partnering with Community Health Workers.

Black and Well in the LBC (3/3/2021)

Watch how the City of Long Beach Health Department launched a series of partnerships with community-based organizations to host mobile vaccination clinics aimed at reaching Black, Latinx and Cambodian community members, to ensure a more equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Watch Video 1

Riverside Vaccinates Farmworkers (3/9/2021)

See how the Riverside County Public Health Department, in partnership with the Coachella Valley Equity Collaborative (spearheaded by the Desert Healthcare District & Foundation and community-based partners), launched mobile vaccination clinics that brought COVID-19 vaccines directly to farmworkers in the fields.

Watch Video 2

Protect Chicago Plus (3/19/2021)

Find out how Protect Chicago Plus paired the health department with local community organizations and increased the percent of first-dose vaccines going to Black and Latinx people from 18% in the first week of distribution to close to 59% in the most recent week of distribution.

Watch Video 3

  • Tookits & Resources: Find and use toolkits and resources from partners and grantees on the new Together Toward Health website, including a mailer for Punjabi speakers created by grantee Jakara Movement, a Spanish-language song from grantee El Sol Neighborhood to support vaccinations in Latinx communities, and more. Many of these materials are designed to be repurposed and used in your community’s outreach efforts.
  • Strategy: Bringing Vaccines Directly to Essential Farmworker Communities: Funding from PHI’s Together Toward Health has been instrumental in providing additional resources and staffing to eight local community-based organizations which are part of the Desert Healthcare District-led Coachella Valley Equity Collaborative. Thanks to this support, the Collaborative is hosting vaccination clinics directly in the Valley’s farmworker communties, providing protection to several hundred farmworkers a day.
  • Communicating about the COVID-19 Vaccines: PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group offers sample messages, guidance and tips to help public health leaders communicate more clearly and effectively about vaccines, engage with trusted messengers and bring racial equity forward. See and share our slides on Instagram.

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New PHI Study on Breakthrough Infection Shows Steep Vaccine Efficacy Decline Over Six Months

A PHI study in the journal Science analyzed COVID infection by vaccination status among 780,225 Veterans. Researchers found that protection against any COVID-19 infection declined for all vaccine types, with overall vaccine protection declining from 87.9% in February to 48.1% by October 2021.

See the press release

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