Supporting Health Equity Through Vaccine Access | Impact Newsletter | June 2021

Last updated: June 2, 2021, at 6:20 a.m. PT

Originally published: June 1, 2021, at 2:57 p.m. PT

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Y has been hard at work to ensure all people have their basic needs met and are able to stay physically and mentally healthy. The same is true now, as we help distribute the vaccine to the communities experiencing barriers to receiving healthcare. So far, the Y of Greater Seattle has partnered with community- based organizations like the Ethiopian Community Center, Stepping Stones Pediatrics, and our very own youth housing programs to distribute over 2,600 doses of the vaccine.  

It is only with the support of our generous donors that this vital work is possible. Thank you for your support to end the pandemic and support the communities who need us most.  

Ethiopian Community Center 

In partnership with the Y of Greater Seattle, City of Seattle Fire Department, and Swedish Medical Center, the Ethiopian Community Center organized three mobile vaccine clinics and had more than 600 eligible community members vaccinated on its premises.  

In addition to this important work, the Y has facilitated virtual COVID-19 vaccine education and health and wellness programs, provided food support, transportation assistance to appointments, and access to technology for hundreds of community members. 

To make wayfinding in the medical arena easier, we hired community Health Navigators representing the African American, Ethiopian, and Somali communities to help community members navigate the health care system and ensure access to community resources.  

Thanks to their hard work, and in collaboration with community and faith-based organizations, over 500 community members were able to receive culturally and linguistically relevant vaccine education. In addition, we supported over 400 families with food, technology, and transportation access.  

With deepening food insecurity, increasing housing instability, slow job recovery, and the replacement of many in-person health services with telehealth services, the need for community health navigators to bridge communities and systems of care is greater than ever. Investing in community health navigators is helping the Y address the social determinants of health that disproportionately affect communities identifying as non-white and/or low-income, who experience challenges that have been magnified during this time of crisis. 

As we navigate the uncertainties of COVID-19 and a long-overdue process of confronting systemic racism, we recognize that immigrant communities in King and South King County are at a higher risk of poor physical, psychological, and social health outcomes, and inadequate health care. These immigrant populations have consistently been affected by social determinants of health such as poverty, food and housing insecurity, lack of education, and challenges with health care access. 

YMCA Youth Housing Program Vaccinations for Youth and Staff  

Young people currently in transitional and permanent housing at the Y have access to education about the COVID-19 vaccine as well as onsite vaccination opportunities. We held our first vaccine clinic for 20 residents and staff on April 16, 2021, with more clinics offered on May 16 and June 11. The majority of staff at these sites were vaccinated in partnership with HealthPoint as soon as they became eligible on March 17. 

Residents were also empowered to pursue vaccination independently, with housing programs providing comprehensive vaccine education, personal protective equipment, and transportation assistance to and from appointments. The community and collaboration fostered within our housing programs is critical to the wellbeing of our residents, and these vaccine clinics are allowing us to deepen our relationship with that community once more. 

12+ Youth Vaccine Access  

In partnership with Stepping Stone Pediatrics, we’ve supplied COVID-19 vaccines to kids as young as 12 years old at our Bellevue Y location through two events in May. Vaccine access for youth is critical as we begin the process of returning to in-person education and enter summertime. Thanks to our amazing Y community health navigators and partners we can now offer peace of mind to entire families, including youth and young adults. 

This work educating communities and supporting kids, families, adults, and seniors on their path to becoming vaccinated against this deadly disease is critical to ending the pandemic. These programs are made possible because of generous donors like you. Thank you. 

Need help getting vaccinated? Email vaccine@seattleymca.org to get help finding or registering for a vaccination. 

Category: Impact Newsletter