Partnership for Health and Vaccine Equity: Protecting Diverse Communities from COVID-19, RSV, and Flu

Posted on by Hope L. Dennis, MPH

On October 30th, the Office of Health Equity (OHE) and the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a partner call to discuss the 2023–2024 respiratory virus season. A total of 783 unique participants joined the call to learn about current guidance to protect their communities from COVID-19, RSV, and flu this fall and winter. Topics covered during the call included key information about these conditions and groups at highest risk for serious illness, guidance surrounding prevention and vaccination, and CDC’s efforts around health and vaccine equity. Reflecting on the importance of the call, Dr. Leandris Liburd, Acting Director of the Office of Health Equity shared with partners, “The Office of Health Equity helped to establish the Agency’s first Chief Health Equity Officer role and function during the COVID-19 response and has continued to engage with partners across the country who represent communities who tend to be disproportionately impacted and marginalized during public health emergencies. We cannot effectively reduce health disparities in these communities without the full participation of organizations like yours. That is why we are here today with our colleagues in NCIRD to bring partners together to share key health equity information related to the respiratory virus response to support these communities.​”

​During the call, four partner organizations highlighted innovative strategies they are using to ensure all communities receive current and up-to-date information on COVID-19, RSV, Flu, vaccinations, and vaccination events:

  • Kristen Nuyen, Capacity Building Director, represented EverThrive Illinois on the call. She spoke about community involvement in their work stating, “[We ensure] that the resources we develop are based on the needs and concerns of the community. We incorporate community perspective into our resource development in a variety of ways, including getting feedback directly from community members on our materials, hosting focus groups with community members, and convening an Equitable Vaccine Advisory Council (EVAC) to solicit feedback from community-based organizations (CBOs) on content and distribution efforts.”
  • Lydia Isaac, PhD, MSc, Vice President of Health Equity & Policy, presented on behalf of the National Urban League and spoke about how they work with trusted messengers by, “training our Affiliate Movement to use proven electoral outreach strategies, such as phone banking, neighborhood canvassing, or hosting telephone town halls, to engage Black and African American communities directly about vaccines. We trained trusted messengers to participate in text bank campaigns to inform communities on the recommended fall vaccine schedule, knocked on doors to extend invitations to local vaccine events, and offered their expertise to answer questions about the vaccines during local telephone town halls. Given the diversity of our cohort of trusted messengers, we were able to organically reach varied audiences with culturally resonant, relevant, and reliable information about the vaccines.”
  • The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies was represented by their Co-Executive Directors, Shaylin Sluzalis and Germán Parodi. They talked about how they have been, “supporting state and local public health agencies in making their vaccination sites and public outreach efforts accessible to and inclusive of people with disabilities by providing interactive, practical trainings and resources. This support includes equity and access checklists, guidance on making materials accessible to people who use screen readers and other people with visual disabilities, the necessity of using sign language interpreters for written material, and what is regarded by the disability community as appropriate language.”
  • UnidosUS’s Director of Health, Pedro D. Martinez, MPH,  shared how they have been, “deploying culturally and linguistically appropriate information to Latino communities through multimedia channels, investing and training trusted messengers in the Affiliate Network, establishing vaccination sites, and forming collaborative networks to tap into the unique strengths and resources of our diverse Latino communities,” which has helped “inform communities, build trust and confidence in vaccines, fight misinformation, and increase vaccine access in Latino communities.”

Working with diverse communities is important to advancing health and vaccine equity and through the work and commitment of its partners, OHE is working to address the specific needs of groups that have been historically marginalized. It is through partnership that we work together to ensure all people have the resources they need to have the opportunity to be as healthy as possible. OHE plans to continue working with partners to further expand its reach and advance health equity. Subscribe to OHE’s email list for updates and information about events related to CDC’s Office of Health Equity, including future partner webinars. Note that you will receive an email to confirm your desire to be added to the subscription list and must complete this step to begin receiving email updates. 

What are you doing to prepare your community or family for the respiratory virus season?

For more resources on CDC’s respiratory virus season:

Posted on by Hope L. Dennis, MPHTags , , ,

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Page last reviewed: December 5, 2023
Page last updated: December 5, 2023