PASADENA, Calif. — The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the health of people of color and has had a devastating effect on their lives. At the same time, as vaccines have become more available, vaccine hesitancy continues to prevail among many racial and ethnic groups, putting their health at greater risk.
Kaiser Permanente believes strongly that equitable COVID-19 protection and vaccine equity should be a national priority. The health care organization with 4.7 million members in Southern California has launched a national comprehensive COVID-19 education campaign to provide trusted information to increase confidence in vaccination within African American, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities.
Kaiser Permanente will spend $5 million in grants to support dozens of nonprofit and community-based organizations across the country — including 2 in Southern California — which provide direct assistance to at-risk populations most impacted by COVID-19. And although there’s light at the end of the tunnel a year into the pandemic, another major goal of this campaign is to stress the continued importance of wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart, and limiting gatherings until the pandemic ends.
The 2 local nonprofit organizations receiving funds from Kaiser Permanente are Los Angeles-based NALEO Educational Fund and Watts Healthcare, which will assist the Hispanic and African American communities respectively. This is part of Kaiser Permanente’s efforts to join industry and public health partners to support an equitable response to COVID-19, including the COVID Collaborative, the Ad Council, and as a member of America’s Health Insurance Plans.
“As vaccines become more available, it is critical that the communities impacted the hardest by COVID-19 have the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe,” said Julie Miller-Phipps, regional president for Kaiser Permanente Southern California and Hawaii Health Plan and Hospitals. “Through outreach and education with trusted partners such as NALEO Educational Fund and Watts Healthcare, we hope to convey the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines and improve vaccine access to help bring an end to this devastating pandemic.”
Kaiser Permanente’s equity education campaign is comprised of:
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 people. While there is less data available for the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community, nearly 25% of people in this group serve in essential roles such as military, security, manufacturing, health, and service-related industries, which likely worsens the pandemic’s impact.
Grant recipients will use grant money to create and distribute culturally and linguistically appropriate information on COVID-19 prevention, including information about testing, vaccination, therapeutics, and healthy behaviors.
“With Latinos being hit particularly hard by the pandemic, having reliable partners in the fight against COVID-19 is a critical part of how our community can persevere through the crisis,” said NALEO Educational Fund CEO Arturo Vargas. “We are grateful to Kaiser Permanente for its support of the Latino community and our organization as we work to empower and educate the community together.”
“Watts Healthcare is honored to be part of a nationwide effort that aligns very strongly with our mission and commitment to the communities we serve,” said Olusheyi Lawoyin, COO and interim CEO of Watts Healthcare. “Our primary goal is to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the populations we serve, and to better understand the barriers that inhibit health-seeking behavior among community members. In addition, we will engage in the promotion of positive messages, and dispel myths and misinformation about COVID-19 prevention by disseminating accurate information by trusted stakeholders to affected communities.”
Funding for the COVID-19 education campaign is part of Kaiser Permanente’s established commitment to improving health equity in the communities it serves, a need that was made tragically clear by the COVID-19 pandemic. This support follows 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 Kaiser Permanente, the largest nonprofit integrated health care system in the country.
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.