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Kaiser Permanente: Supporting equitable COVID-19 vaccine education

Originally published on about.kaiserpermanente.org. Kaiser Permanente is a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company. 

Kaiser Permanente is filling information gaps for COVID-19 prevention and vaccines and fostering trust among communities most impacted by the pandemic.

Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest integrated, nonprofit health care organization, has launched a comprehensive COVID-19 education campaign to provide trusted information to increase confidence in vaccination within African American, Hispanic, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander communities, and to motivate people to keep wearing masks, physically distancing, and avoiding gatherings until the pandemic ends.

Kaiser Permanente’s equity education campaign is comprised of:

  • Collaboration with social media influencers whose trusted voices deliver COVID-19 prevention messages to specific communities
  • Bilingual public service announcement advertisements targeted to Latino and African American audiences
  • Support for community-based organizations across the country

So far, Kaiser Permanente has provided $5 million in grants to support 24 nonprofit and community-based organizations that are providing direct assistance in communities across the United States to people most affected by COVID-19.

“As crucial vaccine supplies begin to increase, it is vitally important that the public feel confident in the safety of the vaccines and are willing to be vaccinated, particularly in communities most affected by the pandemic,” said Greg A. Adams, Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO. “We hope that with the information and support from this campaign, the most at-risk communities will be empowered to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated when it is their turn.”

A year into the pandemic, Hispanic and African Americans continue to die at 2.8 times the rate of white Americans. White and higher-income Americans are also more likely to have received a vaccine than African American, Hispanic, and lower-income groups. While there is less data available for Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander communities, nearly 25% of people in this group serve in essential roles, such as military, security, manufacturing, health, and service-related industries, which likely exacerbates the pandemic’s impact.

Kaiser Permanente’s $5 million in grants will fund programs and provide resources for communities facing an uphill recovery from the pandemic’s devastating impacts. The recipients include faith-based organizations, community health centers and clinics, and advocacy groups that are creating and distributing culturally and linguistically appropriate information on COVID-19 prevention — including information about testing, vaccination, therapeutics, and healthy behaviors.

Kaiser Permanente selected the East Bay Community Foundation as its lead philanthropic partner to provide outreach in the African American community, based on its trusted reputation in the community. The foundation has coordinated 12 community-based organizations leading effective messaging to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and increase the efficiency of vaccination efforts. It also serves as a connector ensuring the experience of community members informs the design and implementation of equitable state and federal programs.

“This campaign is a strong reminder of how important community-based organizations are,” said James Head, CEO of the East Bay Community Foundation. “Our community partners are trusted messengers who provide services and share essential information at a critical moment in the pandemic. We hope that this effort will provide important lessons on how to protect public health and improve national health policies to support communities of color during this crisis and beyond.”

The community-based organizations doing outreach run the gamut from community health clinics to faith-based organizations. In Oakland, the Allen Temple Baptist Church is training a network of trusted messengers to encourage their neighbors and friends to wear masks, stay distanced, get tested, and get vaccinated.

“Although we know COVID-19 kills African Americans at a disproportionate rate, there are many in the community who remain distrustful of both testing and vaccination, particularly at nontraditional points of access,” said Rev. Dr. Jacqueline A. Thompson, senior pastor at Allen Temple Baptist Church. “We are a ministry with a 101-year legacy of serving, educating, empowering, and advocating for those who feel overlooked by larger systems in our community. They depend on us as a trusted source of support and information. We have a moral obligation to make sure our community has both accurate facts regarding the disease and access to life-saving measures. The community is responding in powerful ways — they’re making decisions to test and be vaccinated and that’s making a huge difference.”

This support is part of Kaiser Permanente’s established commitment to improving health equity in the communities it serves — a need that has been made tragically clear by the COVID-19 pandemic — and follows on the announcement in June of a $25 million investment to address systemic racism and its accompanying trauma among communities of color. Partnering with organizations that have a longstanding, trusted presence within communities is a priority for the organization.

“I’m pleased that Kaiser Permanente is helping to create better health outcomes for more people by going beyond the limits of traditional health care to support programs and practices that impact our broader community,” said Representative Barbara Lee, D-CA.

Kaiser Permanente is supporting this targeted campaign through September 2021. To support an equitable response to COVID-19, the organization has also joined industry and public health partners, including the COVID Collaborative, the Ad Council, and as a member of America’s Health Insurance Plans.

For additional resources, visit the COVID-19 Community Resource Download CenterHazlo Por AmorLove Protects Us, and The Public Good Projects.

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