ASTHO Helping Agencies and Providers Advance Vaccine Equity

May 06, 2024 | Shalini Nair

A doctor puts a bandage on a patient's arm after giving a vaccineOver the past several years, views on vaccination have fluctuated, with periods of widespread demand followed by waves of declining sentiment due to the spread of mis- and disinformation—ultimately contributing to worsening health disparities. Addressing immunization equity is essential to mitigating the effects of vaccine-preventable diseases among vulnerable individuals and communities who may be at higher risk for adverse outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic response provided many lessons to take forward for health equity initiatives, specifically in highlighting the importance of community-centered outreach in addressing the healthcare divide.

Introducing: Vaccine Equity Toolkit

ASTHO’s Championing Change: A Toolkit for Addressing Vaccine Equity Through Community Mobilization helps state and territorial health agencies, community leaders, and healthcare providers advance vaccine equity in their communities.

For the past three years, ASTHO’s award-winning Partnering for Vaccine Equity initiative has supported boots-on-the-ground efforts to increase vaccine confidence, drive demand for vaccines, and facilitate vaccine uptake. Alongside the Community Action network and a diverse group of advisors, ASTHO and national and local partners have collated this comprehensive resource, which highlights the promising strategies, lessons learned, outcomes, and more from the novel collaborative.

“This toolkit serves as a beacon illuminating the path towards vaccine equity, enriching the landscape with knowledge, empowerment, and actionable strategies; The resources included here are not merely tools; they are catalysts for change for Community Action and other community-based organizational leaders.”

– Lillie Seels, NCRT, Director, Practice Transformation, National Community Action Partnership

From the Field Snapshot

The Championing Change toolkit highlights the work of five local community action agencies across Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, and South Carolina, to increase uptake of vaccines in their jurisdictions. Each agency took a slightly different approach to implementation, emphasizing the importance of tailoring interventions to local community needs. The toolkit includes in-depth case studies on the standout strategies, including:

  • Partnering with healthcare and public health: Palmetto Community Action Partnership engaged with their health department and a regional federally qualified healthcare center to help maximize the reach and impact of their services in rural South Carolina.
  • Meeting people where they are with fact-based messaging: Enrichment Services Program leveraged the power of targeted messaging campaigns to address the underlying opinions and attitudes of community members, and cultivate discussion around vaccination across three counties in Georgia and Alabama.
  • Leveraging existing programming and partnerships to expand reach: Community Action Program for Central Arkansas looked to their internal programmatic initiatives around early childhood education and outreach for individuals experiencing homelessness to help amplify their vaccine equity work.

Since the project’s inception, ASTHO’s community action partners have held more than 450 events, engaged more than 1.5 million community members in their efforts, and administered at least 5,500 vaccinations including those for COVID-19, influenza, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), shingles, and more.

Using the Toolkit

State and territorial health agencies work to promote, improve, and maintain health for all. However, their ability to fulfill these responsibilities sustainably depends largely on public trust in public health institutions.

One of the most effective ways to build trust is by engaging the communities most affected and leveraging existing, trusted organizations to help address the issues. Every site participating in ASTHO’s Vaccine Equity Project cultivated partnerships with their state or local health department to aid in their outreach efforts, which can transcend into other areas and stages of public health interventions.

“NACHW hopes this toolkit can be a resource for community health workers and community members looking for accurate and diverse information on immunization. Sometimes knowing where to look for accurate information can be the biggest hurdle and having curated resources can cut down on confusion and allow providers to focus on community members.”

– Aurora GrantWingate, Member and Partner Engagement Manager, National Association of Community Health Workers

In Conclusion

Jurisdictions can learn more about the innovative structure and outcomes from this project and implement similar partnerships that further the pursuit of equity in their communities. Access the Championing Change toolkit now.

ASTHO would like to thank the following partners for their integral contributions to this toolkit:

  • The National Community Action Partnership
  • The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
  • The National Association of Community Health Workers
  • The National Association of State Offices of Minority Health
  • The National Medical Association
  • The National Hispanic Medical Association
  • The Center for Healthy Aging at the New York Academy of Medicine
  • The Association of American Indian Physicians
  • Faith4Vaccines

The construction of this toolkit and all activities completed under the Vaccine Equity Project were supported by CDC, under Grant Number NU21IP000598. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC.