Delivering Health Equity through Vaccination Drives and Back-to-School Support in Los Angeles’s Under-Resourced Communities

This year’s back-to-school season was not what we hoped for. With the Delta variant fueling a rise in COVID-19 cases, many parents are feeling renewed anxiety over their children’s safety and the quality of schooling. Moreover, black and brown, low-income families continue to experience higher rates of infection, even as the supply of vaccines have increased, and California has expanded its vaccine priorities to those over the ages of 12.

Vaccine exclusion and hesitancy are important health equity issues particularly for BIPOC communities. Research shows that black and brown communities face deep-rooted inequities that contribute to vaccine exclusion, including a lack of trust in or strong ties to traditional health care institutions, language barriers, COVID-19 myths and misinformation, and inadequate access to health resources. To give our communities a better shot at protecting themselves and maintaining wellness as they return to in-person learning, a more comprehensive approach to boost health equity is needed – one that meets families where they are by carving out a space for dialogue and sharing valuable resources to address differing needs.

This was the biggest takeaway of National Health Foundation’s Children’s Health Day event in partnership with community health organizations and elected officials on Friday, August 13th. Located at NHF’s Recuperative Care center in Pico-Union, the event provided all three COVID-19 vaccines, school supplies, food boxes, CalFresh information and immigration services reaching nearly 1,500 Pico-Union residents.

In L.A. County where more than 1 in 4 families residents experience food insecurity, NHF was proud to collaborate with LA Regional Food Bank to provide 300 boxes of food (5,100 pounds) reaching 1,014 families. Students were all smiles as they took home backpacks, notebooks, and other school supplies. And parents were given the opportunity to speak directly with community health advocates about resources available to them. Many signed up to receive information via a direct call from a community health advocate. This included 250 individuals who provided their contact information to receive more information about CalFresh enrollment.

“It’s an opportunity to learn more and know about the programs that are offered,” said one Pico-Union resident, mother, and attendee. “I’m seeing that there’s a lot of support for students so it’s a great opportunity for us now with the COVID situation being so difficult.”

Health advocates from Clínica Romero provided vaccinations and COVID-19 education to Pico-Union residents, a community that has been disproportionately impacted by the virus. To date, Clínica Romero and NHF’s vaccination drives have provided 306 vaccines to the community.
On attendee expressed her motivation for ensuring those in her family who are eligible received a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I have four children but two are very young and aren’t able to get vaccinated. We are very tired of the pandemic and want things to go back to normal. That’s what motivated me and my family to get the vaccine. I was waiting for the opportunity to get my son (16 years old) vaccinated. That’s why we’re here.”

As families grapple with the evolving challenges of today’s public health crisis, NHF remains committed to directly responding to their needs. Events that bring together diverse health partners and experts encourage community conversations that help families overcome health barriers and access needed resources for a healthier, safer, and supportive school environment for all students. NHF thanks its core partners: Supervisor Hilda Solis and Councilmember Gil Cedillo for their continued support.

More about the event
On August 13, National Health Foundation (NHF), a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health of under-resourced communities, Clínica Msr. Oscar A. Romero, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit and Federal Qualified Health Center (FQHC), Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis and Los Angeles Councilmember Gil Cedillo hosted a free Children’s Health Day and Back-to-School Giveaway. The event was held at NHF’s Pico-Union recuperative care facility at 1032 W. 18th Street in Los Angeles and provided free access to COVID-19 vaccines, as well as school supplies, food distribution, oral hygiene kits and diapers and other baby supplies. Download our press release or watch the video below for a recap of our event.