CDC Program Engages Partners to Promote Vaccine Equity Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups

September 10, 2021 – In 2020, CDC launched Partnering for Vaccine Equity to reduce disparities in vaccine access and increase vaccination among racial and ethnic minority groups in the United States. The program provides nearly $150 million in funding to support a wide range of partners working to increase confidence in, and access to, flu and COVID-19 vaccines through community-based outreach programs. This new program is an example of CDC’s broader commitment to addressing health inequities among racial and ethnic minority groups.

The Partnering for Vaccine Equity program supports a total of 24 directly funded partners that fund community-based organizations, including approximately 70 health departments and health centers, 64 state, territorial, and local vaccination programs, and hundreds of community-based organizations (such as faith-based organizations, city governments, tribal epidemiology centers, universities, non-profits, and local affiliates).

Flu and COVID-19 vaccination coverage have been consistently lower among adults from racial and ethnic minority groups, who also experience disproportionate rates of chronic diseases and higher rates of severe flu and COVID-19 illness. In order to address disparities for these two adult vaccinations, CDC conducted research to determine the primary causes, which include:

  • access (how easily people can get vaccinated),
  • acceptance (how much people want to get vaccinated), and
  • confidence (how safe and effective people believe the vaccine to be).

Improving vaccine access, acceptance, and confidence, starts by engaging communities. A person who is vaccine-confident is often surrounded by a supportive community, which in turn is influenced by support at the local, state, and national levels. The Partnering for Vaccine Equity program recognizes that the most effective solutions to increasing access, acceptance, and confidence will ultimately come from within communities. Outreach and education activities in partnership with communities empower leaders and other trusted messengers to share vaccine facts and science about the importance of vaccination through culturally appropriate messages and build bridges between communities and vaccination providers in a way that fosters trust and confidence while vaccinating against vaccine myths and misinformation. Community-driven engagement lets leaders who know their communities best, make the recommendations—allowing for a more personalized, effective, and sustainable approach.

In addition to financial support for local outreach, the program also provides learning, data, and technical support to partners, as well as communications messages and materials to help mitigate vaccine misinformation and promote facts to communities through social media. Partners are working together to identify barriers to vaccination, equip influential messengers, increase vaccination opportunities, and ultimately increase vaccination uptake in communities. Partners have opportunities to collaborate with and learn from one another through a learning community—creating an innovative network that allows for peer-to-peer learning activities. In August 2021, the Partnering for Vaccine Equity program launched a webpage that includes support for partners and other resources.

This effort builds upon the previous success of the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Flu supplement program, which promotes healthy behaviors and chronic disease management among five racial and ethnic groups: African Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders. This work will continue beyond the urgency of the current COVID-19 pandemic and upcoming flu season to ensure long-term impact in racial and ethnic minority groups—with the potential to expand its focus into other underserved adult populations. The community-based approach is informed by recommendations from an expert listening session CDC held in July 2020 and attended by leaders in health, racial equity, and community engagement.

Funded Partners:

National Organizations

Medical and Professional Associations

Other National Organizations

Other Health Entities

CDC Programs & Immunization Partners

Evaluating Partners