COVID-19 vaccine equity outreach

by Oyinda Osibanjo, PhD, MPH, RPh, and Keshia Bigler, MPH

Averting racial disparities in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is vital to mitigate the disproportionate impacts of the virus for people of color and prevent widening racial health disparities. Reaching high vaccination rates for both individuals and communities is crucial for achieving broader population immunity through vaccination efforts.

CareOregon began this effort by looking at historical data to determine which pharmacies were being used most often by our members and organizing it by race, ethnicity and language. Once we had this information, we were able to identify which pharmacies served the highest proportion of our membership in these culturally specific populations.

After identifying these pharmacies, CareOregon collaborated with both chain and independent pharmacies to reach out to our culturally specific members, addressing geographical inequity to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates for our members. This work focused on culturally specific populations including Vietnamese, Russian, Latino/a and African American.

Efforts included providing pharmacies lists of unvaccinated members so they could conduct outreach. These lists included race, ethnicity and language information to help focus outreach to specific populations. Many pharmacies were able to reach out to our members via text messaging, which was already a feature these pharmacies used to communicate prescription information.

CareOregon also advocated with OHA for vaccine supplies for some independent pharmacies and provided outreach support via our Rapid Response Team, which was organized to reach out to our unvaccinated members and help them find a vaccine site that was convenient for them.

Further examples of this work can be seen in Columbia Pacific CCO’s close partnership with the three public health agencies in their region to ensure members had access to COVID-19 vaccines, developing a COVID-19 vaccine equity toolkit and distributing it to regional public health partners — as well as connecting them with culturally and linguistically specific organizations — to ensure vaccination planning was comprehensive and included all community members. Columbia Pacific also joined a mobile vaccination program in partnership with a community paramedicine program to support those who may be homebound, have mobility concerns or face transportation barriers. 

For more information about our vaccination efforts, please contact:
Oyinda Osibanjo, Senior Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator, Metro: osibanjoo@careoregon.org

Ashley Green, Population Health Portfolio Manager, Metro: greena@careoregon.org

Keshia Bigler, Population Health Portfolio Manager, Columbia Pacific CCO: biglerk@careoregon.org