COVID-19 Vaccines for the Underserved


3, Apr 2021. 07:31am

As of this writing, almost 130 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered nationwide, according to the CDC. However, the communities that need them most are still having trouble getting the shot. 

If you want to make sure your employees get the vaccine, here’s where to sign up.

Seniors and poor communities of color, including non-English speakers, are most at risk of contracting and dying from the virus. But a number of technology-driven challenges—which existed well before the pandemic struck—are keeping them from getting the life-saving vaccine. Appointments nationwide are largely done online, but 41% of individuals over the age of 65, 39% of Hispanic, and 34% of Black households lack broadband, according to the Pew Research Center. Even if these groups do have internet, abysmal user experiences and short booking windows in online portals have left some seniors in tears and ready to throw their computers out the window

“The most vulnerable people are left behind, even more so than if we hadn’t used more of a technology-oriented solution,” Ethan Basch, physician-in-chief at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital, told The Verge.

Many thousands of volunteers—from children to teachers—are working to help seniors and other members of their communities navigate the frustrating vaccine appointment process. However, there’s still work to be done. The CDC reports that while 70% of white people have been vaccinated, and just over 50% of people over 65 have been, less than 8% of Black, Hispanic, and Asian individuals have gotten their doses.

These shots can mean the difference between life and death. And just like community volunteers, brands can lend their time and resources in a number of ways to help these technologically-disadvantaged groups get the life-saving shots. 

Do the research and spread the word

  • Vaccine sites across healthcare centers, pop-up sites, grocery stores, and many other locations appear and disappear almost daily. And each one has its own registration process and information requirements, often with little or no upfront transparency on what information will be needed. Brands could enlist a group of internal and external volunteers to aggregate a list of local vaccination sites, and then document the booking process, requirements, average shots-administered-per-day, and contact information for each one.
  • From there, brands can spread their knowledge to seniors and communities of color offline. They can print bilingual or trilingual flyers and share them across the region, going door to door if necessary. They can also work with community leaders to encourage them to share the flyers.

Host registration events

  • Brands can work with volunteers and local leaders to organize events for vaccine information and registration. During these events, volunteers can work to book appointments online, over the phone, or in-person for residents. 
  • Brands can also organize free travel to and from registration events or vaccination sites for patients who don’t have cars or can’t take trains and buses. 

Partner up

  • Organizations can reach out directly to vaccination sites and offer whatever resources are at their disposal to make the process more seamless whether digitally, by telephone, or in person. Brands might offer the technical expertise of volunteers on their staff or in their customer base to assist in streamlining the application process with design, engineering, or administrative assistance. Brands can also partner with other organizations outside the healthcare space to pool their resources and employ any of the tactics listed above, or develop new ones.  

With these tactics, brands can do their part to get seniors and people of color vaccinated for COVID-19. While helping to save lives is the ultimate goal, brands will get the added benefit of building strong relationships with members of the community, which will improve their overall brand awareness and image.