Addressing COVID inequities for populations with Limited English Proficiency

On November 8, Rena Wang (AHS COVID-19 Program Manager), Shannon Tsang (AHS COVID-19 Program Coordinator), Thu-An Tran (AHS Executive Assistant), and Dr. Sue Lin, Deputy Office Director at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), presented on AHS’ COVID-19 vaccination efforts at the American Public Health Association (APHA)’s annual conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

Addressing COVID inequities for populations with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) is a critical public health issue. In February 2021, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) launched the Health Center COVID Vaccine Program (HCCVP) to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and to ensure vaccine equity for underserved communities. AHS, among other FQHCs, has worked tirelessly to serve our LEP populations, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). As of March 2022, AHS has fully vaccinated 89% of patients compared to California’s vaccination rate of 71%.

AHS’ high vaccination rate resulted from a comprehensive approach involving cultural and linguistic competency, trust, accessibility, outreach, education, advocacy, and community partnerships. AHS used a patient-centered and data-informed approach to develop innovative intervention methods for outreach, fair access to COVID-19 services, and to boost vaccine confidence. In addition, AHS’ disaggregated data revealed disparities and impacted areas, which informed the locations of mobile vaccine clinics and drove initiatives to increase access for various AAPI minority groups. Furthermore, cultural and linguistic competency is achieved by implementing the community health worker model and recruiting multicultural staff from the community.

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