As the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the nation and world, the same structural racism that has led to significant health disparities in this country was further crystallized. The National Health Interview Survey indicates that white adults are more likely to receive their recommended vaccinations than Black and Hispanic adults. The impact: systemically excluded communities — including Native American, Black, Asian, Latino/Latina/Latinx, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities — have been disproportionately infected and dying from COVID-19.

To increase COVID-19 and influenza equity, Community Catalyst developed the Vaccine Equity and Access Program focused on growing vaccine confidence, access, and availability among communities of color. The program is grounded in partnership with 90 community-based organizations.

Together, we are strengthening and amplifying provider relationships within the communities they serve — as local health care and community leaders are critical in boosting vaccine confidence, sharing resources about vaccine types and boosters, and responding to frequently-asked questions or concerns people may have. These influential and trusted messengers have become ambassadors of scientifically accurate and unbiased information about COVID-19 and influenza vaccines. This work has also helped to strengthen partnerships with state and local health departments.

In addition to the 90 community-based organizations, we are working with three national non-profit organizations — LeadingAge, the Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition, and Young Invincibles — to execute vaccine confidence-building and vaccination access strategies focused on important segments of the targeted populations: older adults, young adults, and immigrant communities.

Funding provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of its Partnering for Vaccine Equity efforts.

A young child is sitting in a chair with their back to the viewer. They are wearing a face mask and their shirt sleeve is rolled up, as they are about to get a vaccine. Two health workers are assisting; one to their left, in a black head scarf and paisley shirt, wears gloves and is preparing the vaccine shot. The other, wearing blue patterned medical scrubs, is making direct eye contact with the young person, as if to reassure them.
We’re partnering with community organizations and leaders across the United States to help build confidence and awareness about both COVID-19 and flu vaccines.

Partner Spotlight: LGBT Center of Raleigh

Personal experiences with racism and queerphobia from health care providers has caused many LGBTQ+ people, especially those who are also people of color, to distrust the medical community. This mistrust is a major barrier for LGBTQ+ people in seeking care, including COVID-19 vaccinations. To combat this issue, the LGBT Center of Raleigh teamed up with local drag queens to serve as influential messengers to help educate people about COVID-19 vaccines. As pillars of the LGBTQ+ community, “drag queens have been empowered as trusted messengers to share this information more widely within the queer community,” said LGBT Center of Raleigh Program Director Noah Riley.