Ensuring Equitable COVID-19 Vaccination for all Angelenos
“If there is an 80-year-old homebound person with a pre-existing condition such as diabetes, who has limited access to a cell phone or computer and doesn’t have someone to drive them to a vaccination super-site, how are they supposed to get immunized?” asks Dr. Rosemary Veniegas, CCF’s Senior Program Officer in Health who is also co-chairing the County’s Aligning Resources for Mass Vaccination (ARMV) committee.
The ARMV committee’s role is to provide the County’s COVID-19 team with advice and recommendations on leveraging public and private resources to support equitable, mass vaccine administration. “The committee first thought about the hardest person to vaccinate person to determine what would equitable access mean for them,” Dr. Veniegas adds.
As L.A. County ramped-up vaccination in early 2021, vaccine shipments fluctuated as a flurry of people rushed to book appointments on websites or waited in long lines at vaccination super-sites like Dodger Stadium. Vaccination rates for Latino and Black residents 65 and over continue to be lower than they are for white residents the same age. This disparity can partly be rectified through educational outreach on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and by reducing barriers to receiving it.
As we prepare for the next phases of vaccination that will include over 8 million Angelenos, how can we do a better job of getting communities of color and our most vulnerable immunized?
Through the ARMV committee, CCF is collaborating with community-based organizations to advise the LA County Department of Public Health on their plans to vaccinate vulnerable communities, often the ones who have been hardest hit by the pandemic, and ensure they have fair and adequate access to be immunized for COVID-19.
“The committee first thought about the hardest person to vaccinate to determine what equitable access means for them,” says Dr. Rosemary Veniegas, CCF’s Senior Program Officer in Health.
The committee is tackling diverse issues such as:
- How to reach people with high barriers to getting vaccinated due to immigration, work status, place of residence, technology access, language and other factors.
- Ways to establish vaccination drop-in sites where people work or at places that are most convenient for them.
- Engaging as many community-based partners; including community clinics, health care worker schools and programs, faith-based organizations, nonprofits, employers, trusted influencers, higher education, businesses, unions and the public sector in the local vaccination effort.
- Ensuring the availability of information, appointments and access for communities in languages in which they are most proficient.
As a community foundation, CCF’s mission is to always respond to the greatest needs in the community. Our participation on the ARMV committee not only allows us to effectively and efficiently align future funding for the mass distribution of the COVID-19 vaccination, but really allows us to leverage our long-standing relationships throughout the County on a ground level to help ensure that all Angelenos can be immunized and finally begin to move past this terrible pandemic.