The Councils VAP Recognized For Successes at White House COVID-19 Equity Summit

NHCHC Vaccine Ambassador Project Recognized For Successes at White House COVID-19 Equity Summit 

November 16, 2022

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC) joined more than 30 organizations today at the White House COVID-19 Equity Summit and What Works Showcase to share the successes of the organization’s Vaccine Ambassador Project (VAP). 

VAP, launched in November 2021, focuses on increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates among three groups that encounter barriers to health care: people experiencing homelessness, people with substance use disorder, and people who engage in sex work. NHCHC was invited by the White House to share the successes of the program’s first year. 

“The Vaccine Ambassador Project is a crucial step in making sure our unhoused neighbors are not left behind in getting vaccinated, and we know it saved lives,” said NHCHC Chief Executive Officer Bobby Watts. “The Council couldn’t be happier to see this program and our partnering health care centers be recognized at such a high level for having an impact on health equity.” 

In its first year, VAP activated more than 32 ambassadors at 15 health centers in 12 states to provide more than 30,000 COVID-19 vaccines. The health centers received $2.3 million through a partnership between NHCHC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC).  

NHCHC’s White House presentation highlighted successes at The Wright Center for Community Health in Scranton, Pa. The Wright Center deployed a 34-foot mobile medical unit and six specialists who held and attended community events designed to engage people experiencing homelessness and substance use disorder.  

Through consistent monthly efforts, ambassadors returned to the same locations to offer follow-up doses and care throughout 2021. They were able to provide 7,838 doses to people in Northeastern Pennsylvania who might have otherwise remained unvaccinated due to barriers to health care. 

“Vaccine ambassadors meet people where they are — physically and emotionally,” said Kimberly Chiaramonte, VAP Senior Project Manager. “We found that engaging ambassadors not only improves vaccine uptake, but it also is a great way to connect people with other important services and care.”  

The White House Summit on COVID-19 Equity highlighted interventions and approaches that moved the needle on equitable COVID-19 outcomes. Panel discussions were live-streamed and followed by a virtual showcase featuring community organizations from across the nation and their groundbreaking work on COVID-19 equity. 

Quick Vaccine Ambassador Program stats:

  • VAP is in 15 health centers (below) across 12 states 
  • More than 32 ambassadors have signed on so far 
  • Ambassadors do targeted outreach to people experiencing homelessness, people engaged in sex work, and people with substance use disorder 
  • VAP ambassadors provided more than 30,000 vaccine doses in one year 
  • The project is a partnership between NHCHC, the CDC, and NACHC 

15 recipient programs:

  • Affinia Healthcare (St. Louis) 
  • Alameda County Health Care for the Homeless (Oakland, Calif.) 
  • Camillus Health Concern, Inc. (Miami) 
  • Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (Denver) 
  • Columbus Neighborhood Health Center, dba PrimaryOne Health (Columbus, Ohio) 
  • CrescentCare (New Orleans) 
  • Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (Lawrence, Mass.) 
  • JWCH Institute Inc. (Los Angeles) 
  • LifeSpring Health Systems (Jeffersonville, Ind.) 
  • OPTIMUS Health Care (Bridgeport, Conn.) 
  • Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners (Clearwater, Fla.) 
  • Public Health Management Corporation (Philadelphia) 
  • Union Community Health Center, Inc. (Bronx, N.Y.) 
  • The Wright Center for Community Health (Scranton, Pa.) 
  • Yakima Neighborhood Health Services (Yakima, Wash.) 

For more information, contact Lindsey Turner

About the National Health Care for the Homeless Council 

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council, based in Nashville, is the premier national organization working at the nexus of homelessness and health care. Grounded in human rights and social justice, the NHCHC’s mission is to build an equitable, high-quality health care system through training, research, and advocacy in the movement to end homelessness.  

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