Successful Strategies in Advancing Vaccine Equity Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Adults

Mar 25, 2024 | Victoria Thompson, Clarissa Montes

The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) Partnering for Vaccine Equity project (PAVE) is a nationwide initiative to reduce inequities in flu and COVID-19 vaccination among racial and ethnic adults. NACCHO, as a participant, is working with 40 local health departments (LHDs) across 21 states, including the District of Columbia, to enhance their capacity in addressing vaccination disparities among these populations.

NACCHO’s PAVE team has chosen four LHDs in Massachusetts, Washington, Illinois, and Pennsylvania to showcase their successful strategies for advancing vaccine equity among racial and ethnic minority adults.

Boston Public Health Commission

Maternal and Child Vaccine Safety - Enhancing Vaccine Confidence Through Multilingual Communication

After conducting a Rapid Community Assessment (RCA), in collaboration with the Healthy Baby Healthy Child program, Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) identified significant concerns within their population regarding vaccine safety before, during, and after pregnancy. Specifically, community members expressed concerns about the impact of vaccines on fertility, breastfeeding, and their safety during pregnancy.

In response, BPHC aimed to increase confidence in COVID-19 and flu vaccines among pregnant people with racial and ethnic backgrounds. Their strategic communication approach aimed to reduce language barriers by ensuring communication materials were available in the twelve most spoken languages in Boston. Those languages are English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Arabic, Cape Verdean Creole, Simplified Chinese, French, Pashto, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, and Vietnamese.

To amplify their efforts, BPHC engaged key stakeholders and established trusted messengers. These influential voices played a pivotal role in shaping their strategies, especially within BPHC’s community-facing programs that directly engage with their target audiences. As a result of their comprehensive communication avenues, which included radio, digital, print, and out-of-home public transit ads, BPHC witnessed a 300% increase in traffic to their landing page and YouTube channel. Notably, this surge in engagement occurred across diverse language audiences, underscoring the program’s effectiveness in reaching and informing the community.

To learn more about the communication materials BPHC deployed, please check out the resources below.

Jefferson County Public Health

Anti-Racist Literacy Training for Public Health and County Staff

In a proactive effort to foster a more inclusive and equitable environment, the Jefferson County Public Health Department (JCPH) collaborated with a local consultant/trainer to implement a comprehensive anti-racist literacy training for their health department and county staff. The training aimed to enhance staff members’ ability to connect with their marginalized communities. They sought out and attended this training to deepen their understanding to support their goal of establishing a lasting foundation of trust and creating lasting change across their county.

Approximately 70% of health department staff participated in this training, with most completing the course. The training’s impact extended beyond the health department, benefiting county staff across various departments and select community partners. Participants gained fundamental insights into anti-racist concepts and vocabulary, often encountering these ideas for the first time. The training underscored the need for ongoing internal efforts to enhance diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. Staff members demonstrated a willingness to learn and evolve, recognizing their role in better serving both one another and their community.

Greene County Public Health

Engaging Your Community by Addressing Their Needs

When seeking to learn more about improving vaccine coverage rates, Greene County Health Department’s Community Needs Assessment (CNA) and Rapid Community Assessment (RCA) revealed two key community issues: COVID-19 fatigue and social determinants of health such as transportation, health literacy, housing, food access, and clinical care availability. Given this context, Greene County reflected on a fundamental question: If community members lack the means to support their everyday lives, how can the health department staff expect to effect meaningful change by only promoting vaccines?

Greene County recognized the urgent need for change. The health department team collaborated closely with community partners to identify the diverse challenges faced by residents. With this information, they developed innovative solutions. They initiated new programs, supported partner initiatives, identified funding opportunities, and facilitated tangible actions within the community. These efforts solidified partnerships and fostered robust collaborations.

By leveraging these connections, Greene County successfully brought vaccines directly to where people live, work, play, learn, and worship. Moreover, these newly established relationships allowed for the creation of messengers. These messengers played a pivotal role in crafting a public service announcement series that centered on the core issues identified by the community. Through advocacy and education, they informed their respective groups about available health department services and programs.

The results have been remarkable. The community has recognized the health department as a key stakeholder and chief ally in addressing central issues. Overall, the health department’s image has transformed which has resulted in the rebuilding of trust.

Emergency Health Services Federation

Crafting Targeted Communication: Addressing Community Concerns

Among the counties served by the Emergency Health Services Federation (EHSF), Perry County is one of the most rural and vaccine-hesitant areas. With a vaccination rate of less than 50%, which falls below the state average, Perry County faces unique challenges in promoting vaccine acceptance. To gain valuable insight into residents’ perspectives, concerns, and ideas to help shape future public health initiatives, EHSF conducted a survey within this county. Survey results highlighted that the community was concerned about vaccine safety and did not perceive certain diseases as threats; therefore, vaccinations were not necessary.

To address these issues, EHSF took a proactive approach. They included an optional open-ended question in the survey that allowed participants to anonymously express their true opinions. Using these responses, EHSF developed targeted strategies to overcome vaccine safety fears within the community. They emphasized the importance of vaccines in safeguarding both individual and community health. By utilizing a “meet people where they are” approach, EHSF organized pop-up vaccine clinics with educational booths. Despite the reservations expressed by community members, EHSF remained committed to ensuring that everyone received accurate information about vaccines.

NACCHO would like to thank Boston Public Health Commission, MA, Jefferson County Public Health, WA, Greene County Health Department, IL, and the Emergency Health Services Federation, PA, for sharing their stories in advancing vaccine equity among racial and ethnic minority adults.

About Victoria Thompson

Victoria Thompson is a Senior Program Analyst on the Immunization Team at NACCHO.

More posts by Victoria Thompson

About Clarissa Montes

More posts by Clarissa Montes

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