Vaccine Equity in California: Funder Consejo


This resource list is aimed to be a toolkit to help funders find tools and resources and provides consejos – advice – to support community-based organizations working with the Latinx population and other communities of color disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. California’s Latino community is diversely represented by different countries of origin, primary language preferences, and faith traditions. Latinos comprise 40% of California’s population and live in communities across rural, suburban and urban parts of the state. As the vaccination eligibility expands this month, we must pay special attention to groups that are low-income, home-bound, undocumented, and those who face other barriers. 

Fast facts

  • Data from the California Department of Public Health states that Latinos have a 22% higher death rate on average due to COVID-19. That is higher than any other group in California.
  • Disparities persist across communities of color. According to the most recent vaccination numbers Latinos have received 19.5% of vaccines and Blacks 3% while making up 40% and 6% of the proportion of the population, respectively. In addition, the case rate for Pacific Islanders is 33% higher than statewide. 

Learnings from the community

  • Many Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) have shared that they will not believe that the state is committed to vaccine equity until vaccination rates in communities of color begin to shift. We need a strong collective effort between the government, funders, and our communities to shift the vaccination rates and get everyone vaccinated.
  • Mass sites don’t work for many in the Latino community, even with escorts.
  • Vaccines need to be administered in the community by trusted partners and clinics. Smaller sites that get the vaccine into the hands of primary care providers as a trusted resource are the key to equity.
  • Some clinics suspect that Latino vaccination rates will improve when entire families can be vaccinated. Advocacy with state and local officials is needed to design vaccine operations to accommodate entire families or households being vaccinated together. 
  • CBOs would like to give input on Blue Shield of CA’s efforts to coordinate vaccine distribution. One method of community input is through the State Advisory Board or via their county health department. Providing resources to CBOs to support their engagement in advocacy efforts is key. 

How Funders Can Help Right Now

Invest in Existing Community Based Infrastructure 

  • There was a robust census outreach infrastructure created and it needs to be properly resourced in order to be mobilized in support of equitable vaccine distribution.  
  • Advocate with State and local officials to design vaccine operations in a manner that accommodates entire families or households being vaccinated together.
  • Provide flexible, rapid response funds to community clinics, faith-based organizations, and on-the-ground organizations.
  • Make sure large strategic efforts like Together Toward Health, where $29.4 million was sourced from 18 CA funders, are transparent and well-publicized. This effort coordinates closely with public health officers in 27 CA locations.
    • A listing of organizations funded as of February found here
  • Fund county coalitions where public health, CBOs, and other community players are already dedicating time and staff to come together regularly and address issues
  • Continue to support the various COVID-19 Rapid Response funds set up. Philanthropy Together has an extensive list: 

Leverage Data and Community Voice to Guide Investments

  • Get educated on current efforts through the CDPH that posts data regularly
  • Talk to your grantees about what they are experiencing and what they need.
  • Focus on pockets/places that have high poverty. We know that even in counties with high proportions of wealthy residents like San Mateo, Marin and Santa Clara have hidden pockets of poverty. Let’s make sure we are supporting these communities. A great place for information by county is the Healthy Places Index that provides a COVID-19 Resource Map

Engage in Media Advocacy 

  • Push back against the media coverage on vaccine hesitancy. Break it down and highlight messages and efforts that are working. San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) has a toolkit on combating vaccine hesitancy. 
  • Keep the urgency of vaccine equity a priority through op-eds, blog posts, social media, and conversations with foundation colleagues and boards.
  • Continue to fund the work to curb misinformation especially in light of the recent Johnson and Johnson vaccine pause. 

How Funders Can Help in the Future

  • Address and Fund Barriers 
    • Address transportation barriers and accessibility issues. 
    • Address language access beyond Spanish to include indigenous languages like Mixteco and Zapoteco.
    • Lower barriers for vaccine sign ups – providing personal information may scare many Latino families.
    • Advocate for state and local officials to provide flexibility in appointment options for working Latinos who struggle to meet the weekday 9 am-5 pm vaccine schedules. Fund CBOs, FBOs, and clinics so that weekend and evening clinics can be staffed.
  • Build on private-public partnerships. The California Immigrant Relief Fund  (CIRF) was a great example of a funder and local government coming together in a time of crisis. They provide cash assistance to undocumented Californians affected by the pandemic. CIRF was set up as part of a public-private partnership with the state of California. The state-financed immigrant relief fund, a  first of its kind in the nation, distributed $75 million to 150,000 families.  
  • Resource the public health infrastructure. This pandemic has shown us how fragile our public health infrastructure is, and that means funding not only the public health department but the work of local community-based organizations. This virus is being contained but not going away and we will need to build the infrastructure for child vaccination and annual booster shots. 
  • Focus on Data. The Advancement Project has a wealth of reports and data on their resource tool – Race Counts and the Healthy Places Index
  • Build a coordinated regional strategy and funder table focused on the current crisis and long-term recovery efforts. With so many ad-hoc webinars and distinct efforts, we risk building a stronger coalition of support for our communities. 


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