California’s Vax for the Win Incentive & Equity Programs Make a Difference in Hard-to-Reach Communities, Slowed Rate of Decline of Vaccinations for California

Since Vax for the Win launch, more than 2 million Californians who started their vaccination process recieved incentive benefits

SACRAMENTO – This week, California surpassed 2 million newly vaccinated individuals since launching the Vax for the Win program,and completed the awarding of all $50 incentive cash and grocery cards.

The program has helped improve vaccination rates in California’s hardest-hit communities, identified by ZIP codes contained in Quartile 1 on the Healthy Places Index. Since May 27, communities in Quartile 1 received more vaccinations than any other parts of the state, for seven weeks in a row. In the week ending July 14, these communities received 31.6 percent of all doses administered. The average number of doses administered increased by 4.9 percent in the seven weeks post-incentive program as compared to the three weeks pre-incentive program. The program has also successfully reached Latino communities more so than any other groups, with a 10 percent increase in vaccinations. In the week ending July 14, 41 percent of the doses administered were attributed to the Latino community.

Vax for the Win successfully slowed the rate of decline that California was experiencing in vaccination rates, while also increasing completion rates for vaccinations that require two doses, which is required in order to receive incentive rewards. California’s vaccine completion rate has increased from 89 percent to 92 percent. The program’s peak showed a 33 percent increase in vaccinations, “outpacing the inoculation trends in much of the country,” including more recently a 4.4 percent increase for the week ending July 14 — a promising sign in California, as vaccination rates declined nationwide.

  • Slowing the rate of decline in vaccines administered:
    • Decline in first doses cut in half. The percent decline for first doses dropped from 16.3 percent to 15.9 percent (three weeks prior to the incentive vs. the three weeks after). It decreased further from 15.9 percent to 8.4 percent after the program was launched (the first three weeks vs. next four weeks post-incentive).
    • Decline in second doses cut by 6 percent. The percent decline for second doses dropped from 21.1 percent to 16 percent (first three weeks post-incentive and the following four weeks). It decreased further from 19.2 percent to 12.8 percent (the first three weeks vs. next four weeks post-incentive).
  • Reaching hard-to-reach communities:
    • California’s hardest-hit communities (considered to be ZIP codes contained in Quartile 1 on the Healthy Places Index) have received more vaccinations than other parts of the state — now for seven weeks in a row. In the week ending 7/14, Q1 received 31.6 percent of all doses administered, and the Q1 average of percent doses administered 3 week pre-incentive as compared to 7 week post-incentive has increased by 4.9 percent.
    • Since launching the incentive program, the Latino community has seen a 10 percent increase in vaccinations. In the week ending 7/14, 41 percent of the doses administered were attributed to the Latino community.

Additionally, since launching the Six Flags 50,000 ticket giveaway just over a month ago, more than 42,000 tickets have been distributed at 100 participating vaccine locations throughout the state, mainly in low-income and high-need areas. Nearly every participating provider reported that the ticket incentive helped improve patient turnout, with one provider saying tickets helped encourage patients’ family members to get vaccinated. Another provider reported seeing a large uptick in teens deciding to get vaccinated to get a ticket.

California continues to lead the nation in vaccinations, with more than 44 million doses administered, resulting in nearly 75 percent of the eligible population with at least one dose. Compared to other states:

  • California’s current daily vaccination numbers are approximately 1.4x that of Texas and approximately 1.6x that of Florida and 2x that of New York.
  • California has administered approximately 17.6 million more doses than 2nd place Texas.

But there’s still more work to be done, and California has proactively engaged in a multi-pronged strategy to reach holdouts.

For California’s vaccination efforts, especially in communities hardest hit by the pandemic and those who have been particularly reticent (e.g., homebound, limited transportation and flexibility, higher vaccine hesitancy and/or living in a more remote area), the state has been stepping up efforts to become more surgical and continue to be data driven: transitioning from mass sites to smaller, more targeted efforts, and continuing to intensify our outreach and education efforts, to deploy mobile capacity, and to otherwise make it easier for people to access vaccines.

Here are some of the efforts that the state has implemented:

  • Multimedia and Multicultural Public Education Campaigns
    • These efforts are data-driven and prioritize communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
    • The Let’s Get to Immunity Campaign is now accompanied by a youth 12+ campaign reaching families. Efforts are leveraging partnerships with over 400 ethnic media outlets that cover over 25 languages, including indigenous languages.

  • ‘Get Out the Vaccine’ Phone Bank and Door-Knocking Campaign
    • Modeled after successful ground-level campaigns, the state “Get Out the Vaccine” effort coordinates with 70 community-based organizations. As of July 13, the “Get Out the Vaccine” campaign has resulted in 1.3 million conversations to promote vaccination via personal phone calls and door-to-door canvassing in less advantaged neighborhoods in California.
    • Since the program began, canvassers have knocked on more than 1.6 million doors and scheduled more than 55,000 vaccination appointments. Funded by $21.6 million in state funding, the program has been a partnership with Healthy Future California (concluded June 30) and the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s STOP COVID CA initiative (continuing through October).

  • Supporting Community Organizations for Outreach, Direct Appointment Assistance and Referrals
    • Trusted messengers play a vital role in supporting the state’s equitable administration of vaccines. California’s investment and public-private partnerships total $127.7 million in support of approximately 500 community-based organizations to outreach to underserved communities. Their efforts will be targeted consistent with those outlined in the public education campaign. The state’s partnership with philanthropy includes the Public Health Institute (PHI) Together Toward Health initiative and The Center of Sierra Health Foundation Vaccine Equity Campaign.
    • The state has invested more than $65.3 million, including approximately $23.3 million from the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), $20 million from the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and $22 million from the California Department of Public Health.
    • A subset of these organizations have already facilitated approximately 184,986 vaccine appointments and 710,429 referrals to appointment platforms or providers. FAQs on the statewide network of community-based organizations can be found here.

  • Health Care Provider-Based Efforts
    • New Community Provider Grants: The CalVaxGrant, launched on July 12 and running through August 13, is intended to reimburse practices up to $55,000 to set up their offices as small, community-based COVID-19 vaccination sites. Small practice providers can apply to receive $10,000 for up to five vaccination sites and receive an additional $1,000 per site if their vaccination sites serve high priority areas. Providers already participating in the California COVID-19 Vaccination Program may apply for reimbursement retroactively.
    • Engage Doctors and Providers: As trusted messengers doctors, pediatricians, and providers can proactively reach community members as well as answer questions when patients come into their offices. Toolkit materials will aid partners in their efforts to encourage vaccinations.
    • Engaging Medi-Cal Providers: The Department of Health Care Services is working to increase the vaccination rates of Medi-Cal recipients including: engaging managed care plans in weekly calls, encouraging outreach to patients, sharing weekly beneficiary vaccination data, and disseminating a Quality Improvement Postcard with strategies and techniques to address vaccine hesitancy.

  • Community/Business Partnerships
    • Barbershops: “Helping Communities Help Themselves” is a partnership with the Black Beauty and Wellness Foundation that has established 100 statewide barber shops, beauty shops and beauty supply stores as community-based COVID-19 resource centers. Shops and stylists are promoting information about vaccines and masking up until you are vaccinated.
    • Higher Educational Institutions: The campaign has engaged the CCC, CSU, and UC systems, as well as the AICCU (Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities) to share information about the Vaccinate ALL 58 campaign and opportunities to partner and encourage more students to get vaccinated so they can safely return to campus. Each of these groups was provided a customizable toolkit.
    • School-Based Organizations: School based organizations are assisting with a back-to-school push through a toolkit and earned media opportunities.
    • Faith-Based Outreach: Faith-based organizations and leaders are trusted messengers in their communities. Through these networks, the campaign is able to provide clear, factual, and accurate information about vaccines to faith leaders and their communities. Many of these partnerships have led to co-hosting vaccine clinics in the faith communities.
    • McDonald’s: McDonald’s is hosting over 150 vaccination pop-up clinics at more than 80 restaurant locations in 11 different LHJs across the state. 107 have already been completed.