Vaccinating the Vulnerable: PCF Funds Critical Collaboration

Early in March, on a rainy Wednesday morning, Planned Parenthood Pasadena & San Gabriel Valley (PPPSGV) Health Center in north Pasadena welcomed some important patients. An elderly couple, linked in arms, walked in slowly together. A middle-age construction worker moved into line for his appointment before a shift at a nearby construction site. More arrived, and directing everyone were friendly PPPSGV staff members, engaging patients with educational materials and conversation. PCF staff members Kate Clavijo and Sarah Hilbert were thrilled to watch in real time how a recent PCF grant was enabling critical work to take place at the site.

A Grant for Equitable Vaccine Distribution

PCF had just funded a collaboration between the Pasadena Public Health Department (PPHD) and PPPSGV to get the COVID-19 vaccine to underserved Pasadena-area residents as equitably, efficiently, and quickly as possible. PCF’s grant enabled an allocation of 1,600 Moderna vaccine doses from the city’s health department to PPPSGV and supported PPPSGV in quickly building capacity for a 16-week, community-focused vaccination clinic. Held twice a week, these clinics are designed to outreach, educate, and deliver vaccine in a culturally competent manner to Pasadena’s most vulnerable populations.

PCF’s funding also facilitated PPPSGV grassroots outreach efforts. Staff members now have resources to canvass restaurants and other businesses to connect essential workers to the clinic. They have also created tailored communication materials and methods to help community partners and their stakeholders navigate the complex vaccine enrollment process and overcome issues around vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. Onsite, educational materials are available in multiple languages, and staff members are well trained to anticipate and answer a broad range of questions to help “myth bust.”

The vaccine clinic is held at PPPSGV’s Health Center in north Pasadena, a culturally and racially diverse neighborhood. Here, an elderly couple fills out paperwork before getting vaccinated.

Clinics Serve a Critical Niche

PPHD’s Director and Health Officer Dr. Ying-Ying Goh points out that this type of community clinic serves a critical niche in the historic immunization effort. “The PPPSGV community vaccine clinic is different from and compliments larger mass-vaccination sites by reaching communities that might not otherwise access the COVID-19 vaccine. Our data show that partnerships with trusted community-based organizations measurably increase the number of Latinx and African American individuals who are vaccinated.”

PPPSGV is a natural partner, says Dr. Goh, because it can “leverage personal outreach, share accurate information, and navigate structural barriers like language and transportation, ultimately bringing the vaccine to more of our community hardest hit by the pandemic.”  PPPSGV President and CEO Sherri Bonner agrees, noting that the organization is “a trusted health care provider in the communities we serve, and our care is centered on patients who have the most challenging time accessing preventive care. We are incredibly proud to partner with Pasadena Community Foundation in establishing a COVID-19 vaccine clinic that provides access to people heavily impacted by the pandemic.”

Measurable Impact 

The clinic’s impact to date is encouraging and demonstrates the effectiveness of this community-focused model. So far, PPPSGV has used more than 550 doses of the Moderna vaccine with approximately 225 patients (2 doses each). Pasadena seniors over age 65 account for 33% of that total. After visiting the clinic, PCF Program Director Kate Clavijo says, “It was inspiring to see firsthand the PPSGV staff communicating to older Pasadena residents in their language and with an understanding of their culture. PPSGV engages staff who reflect the communities they serve and that makes an incredible difference.”

PPPSGV clinic staff wear buttons that say “Proudly Vaccinated Against COVID-19” to help address misinformation and build trust.

For PCF President and CEO Jennifer DeVoll, this was an exciting opportunity to extend the Foundation’s ongoing pandemic response. “PCF continues to be at the forefront of local COVID-19 relief efforts by recognizing that equitable vaccination is critical in alleviating the pandemic’s impact. This has been a meaningful collaboration between the city, PPSGV, and PCF and underscores the importance of an innovative model for vaccine rollout.”

DeVoll notes that she is eager to see the Foundation continue building capacity with community partners so that as vaccines become more widely available, “we can facilitate the efforts of local nonprofits, which in turn can escalate outreach to underserved populations and increase the numbers served.”

Visit PPPSGV’s Vaccination Clinic website to see how PCF’s grant is supporting critical community care.