Strengthening Vaccine Confidence by Supporting Community Organizations

Since the first scientific paper on smallpox vaccination was published in 1798, vaccines have become one of the most powerful public health tools ever discovered, saving untold millions of lives around the world. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the vaccines received by children born between 1994 and 2018 will prevent 419 million illnesses and help avoid 936,000 deaths. 

Maintaining a high level of confidence in the vaccines themselves, along with those who manufacture, test and administer them, is key to keeping coverage rates up. But the recent resurgence of myths and misinformation about vaccines has already increased the risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs). Vaccine confidence remains more critical than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the nation looks towards recovery.  

The CDC Foundation, with support from CDC, is working on a project called Supporting Community Organizations to Increase Vaccine Confidence, to promote acceptance and accessibility among groups at risk for outbreaks of VPDs related to under-immunization in the United States. 

Through this CDC Foundation initiative, seven community-based organizations were recently awarded grants through a competitive process. These organizations will implement strategies to provide health education and community engagement around the importance of immunization across an individual’s lifespan.  

The organizations selected for this project are: 

  • Gregory B. Davis Foundation — Serving youth and families through the development and support of health and education-related programs in eastern North Carolina. 
  • Sostento — Supporting frontline public health workers and the communities they serve across the nation. 
  • Immunize Kansas Coalition — Working to protect all Kansans from vaccine preventable diseases. 
  • Change, Inc. — Serving at-risk, underserved individuals and addressing the challenges of systemic poverty and racism in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN. 
  • National Hispanic Council on Aging — Serving Hispanic older adults, their families and caregivers in the United States. 
  • Health Initiatives of the Americas — Coordinates and optimizes resources to reduce health disparities of the Latinx-origin population living and working in the United States. 
  • Zeitgeist — Working to grow and sustain a diverse, inclusive, equitable, artistic and vibrant community in Duluth, MN. 

The CDC Foundation is now working with these organizations to increase capacity to integrate partnership building and to implement science-based, community-developed strategies to increase vaccine confidence among at-risk populations. The lessons learned will be documented and shared with others who are working to improve vaccine uptake in communities around the nation.   

This article was supported by Cooperative Agreement number 6 NU38OT000288-03-01 funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.  

Nikka Sorrells
Nikka Sorrells, MPH, is a senior program officer for the CDC Foundation.