10% of Douglas County’s COVID-19 vaccines were allocated for members of groups experiencing barriers; including internet access, transportation, mobility, language, literacy, (dis)ability, medical mistrust, housing instability, medical mistrust, and lack of connection to a health care system. The initiative engaged community groups with knowledge and trusted connections with different groups including BIPOC (Blacks, Indigenous, and People of Color), undocumented community members, and residents of rural areas who may be less willing to be vaccinated. By relying on organizations with already trusted connections, the vaccine equity effort increased willingness to be vaccinated for those members of the community and provided the access needed to encourage them to act on that willingness. Heartland Community Health Center, a key partner in delivering the allocated 10% of vaccines, overcame hesitancy with a history of serving these communities and supports for overcoming barriers (e.g., language access through on-site Spanish speakers). Early evidence suggests that this equity approach may be effective; as vaccine clinics are reaching community members of color, particularly Hispanic/Latino community members, at a higher rate than what is representative of Douglas County’s demographics.
[Source: Health Equity Planner, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health].