Moving the Needle: Webinar Spotlights CBOs’ Role in Boosting Vaccination Efforts

“People don’t want to hear the CDC come in and tell them what to do. They want to have conversations with people they know and trust, and that’s all of you,” said Amanda Cohn, MD, chief medical officer of the COVID-19 vaccine task force at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cohn was a featured speaker at last week’s CDC Foundation webinar “Moving the Needle on COVID-19 Vaccination Support,” the third in our series of webinars for community-based organizations (CBOs) and their partners.

Cohn provided the hundreds of attendees an update on the COVID-19 vaccination rollout nationwide, and highlighted CDC efforts to build trust, empower healthcare providers, and engage communities and individuals in a “sustainable, equitable and inclusive way.” She said CDC’s new Communication Toolkit for CBOs is now available to provide resources in multiple languages that can be tailored to individual community needs. And she shared the news that about $3 billion is being allocated to fund vaccination support efforts at the community level, with at least 10 percent of the funds earmarked for high-risk and underfunded populations.

Health equity was top of mind for the webinar’s other guests, public health leaders from Chicago: Rachel Reichlin, MPH, MSN, RN, senior program officer at Michael Reese Health Trust; Sheila Regan, chief operating officer at Acclivus, Inc.; and Marina Del Rios, MD, MS, chair of the Health and Policy Committee at Illinois Unidos, which advocates on behalf of the Latinx community. All three shared insights from their work with the Vaccine Corps Partnership, a network of organizations from across the education, healthcare, philanthropy, public and business sectors working together on COVID-19 prevention and vaccination efforts in metro Chicago.

“The partnership serves to coordinate resources and learnings to ensure that everybody in our region can make an informed choice and access the COVID vaccine,” Reichlin explained. 

The trio stressed the importance of leveraging trusted messengers at the hyper-local level, being respectful and non-judgmental with folks who may be wary of vaccination and thinking creatively about how to get the vaccine to where people congregate, live and work. 

CDC Foundation President and CEO Judy Monroe, MD, called the partnership “a real bright spot in the national effort to control COVID-19” and one that can serve as a model for other community-based organizations. 

Monroe closed the webinar with a simple yet effective call to action: “Continue to model the way. Follow the four w’s—wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance, be wary of crowds. Get your vaccine as soon as it’s your turn. And always listen with empathy.” 

To access a recording of the webinar and other materials useful to CBOs in the COVID-19 response effort, please visit our Resources for Community-Based Organizations webpage.  


This blog post is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $45,939,536 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CDC/HHS or the U.S. Government.

Headshot of Hannah Buchdahl
Hannah Buchdahl is a COVID-19 Corps communications officer for the CDC Foundation.