Vaccine Ambassadors Help Facilitate COVID-19 Vaccination among Three Disproportionately Affected Populations
January 26, 2023
Posted In: People experiencing homelessness, People with substance use disorders
To improve adult vaccine confidence and coverage for COVID-19 and other vaccines among three disproportionately affected populations – people experiencing homelessness, people with substance use disorders, and people who engage in sex work – by hiring and supporting Vaccine Ambassadors (community health workers focused on vaccinations) through community health centers.
Populations of focus
People with substance use disorders, people experiencing homelessness, and people engaged in sex work.
The National Association of Community Health Centers, in partnership with the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.
The Vaccine Ambassador Program (VAP) uses a healthcare facility-based trusted communicator model to facilitate COVID-19 and other vaccinations among three specific populations at increased risk for severe COVID-19 and other infectious diseases: 1) people experiencing homelessness (PEH), 2) people with substance use disorders (PWSUD), and/or 3) people who engage in sex work (PESW). PEH, PWSUD, and PESW are at increased risk for multiple infectious diseases and face unique barriers to accessing healthcare; these populations might have low levels of trust in the medical system due to previous experiences of trauma or stigma. To address these concerns, CDC recommends using trusted communicators, such as Vaccine Ambassadors, who can provide vaccination education, information, and linkage to care to these populations. In its second year of funding, the VAP is being expanded to improve vaccine confidence and coverage in other adult vaccinations as well, including hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and influenza.
Early Impact or Lessons Learned
Interim reporting from Year 1 of the VAP indicates that the model has been successful in facilitating vaccination in these high-risk communities. Among the 15 participating health centers, 32 Vaccine Ambassadors were hired and/or trained, and over 30,000 COVID-19 vaccinations total occurred. In year 2, the project will focus on expanding routine adult vaccination.