Orange County, California COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Best Practices Checklist: A Community-Centered Call to Action for Equitable Vaccination Practices

Health Equity. 2022 Jan 17;6(1):3-12. doi: 10.1089/heq.2021.0048. eCollection 2022.


Introduction: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has exacerbated longstanding inequities throughout the United States, disproportionately concentrating adverse social, economic, and health-related outcomes among low-income communities and communities of color. Inequitable distribution, prioritization, and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines due to systemic and organizational barriers add to these disproportionate impacts across the United States. Similar patterns have been observed within Orange County, California (OC). Methods: In response to COVID-19 vaccine inequities unfolding locally, the Orange County Health Equity COVID-19 community-academic partnership generated a tool to guide a more equitable vaccine approach. Contents of the OC vaccine equity best practices checklist emerged through synthesis of community-level knowledge about vaccine inequities, literature regarding equitable vaccination considerations, and practice-based health equity guides. We combined into a memo: the checklist, a written explanation of its goals and origins, and three specific action steps meant to further strengthen the focus on vaccine equity. The memo was endorsed by partnership members and distributed to county officials. Discussion: Since the initial composition of the checklist, the local vaccine distribution approach has shifted, suggesting that equitable pandemic responses require continual re-evaluation of local needs and adjustments to recommendations as new information emerges. To understand and address structural changes needed to reduce racial and socioeconomic inequities exacerbated by the pandemic, authentic partnerships between community, academic, and public health practice partners are necessary. Conclusion: As we face continued COVID-19 vaccine rollout, booster vaccination, and future pandemic challenges, community knowledge and public health literature should be integrated to inform similar equity-driven strategic actions.

Keywords: COVID-19; community centered; community–academic partnership; health equity; vaccine equity.