Hesitancy, Equity, and Transparency: Rolling out the COVID-19 Vaccine

May 6, 2021


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About the Webinar

Racial and ethnic minorities, elderly individuals, those in underserved urban and rural areas, and members of other vulnerable groups are the most in need of the COVID-19 vaccine but face the greatest challenges to getting it. These individuals may lack resources to or be hesitant, confused, and/or skeptical of information about vaccine availability, safety, and efficacy. How can governments, the medical community, and community- and faith-based organizations reach them?

Trust and trustworthiness are a significant part of achieving equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. While policymakers, health care providers, pharmacies, and community-based organizations are working hard to build trust, there are challenges to doing so. Programs and policies that do not address population-specific needs and backgrounds, do not leverage trusted community resources, and do not share timely data transparently are common roadblocks.

In this web forum, speakers will address:

  • Issues related to building trust and trustworthiness between communities and those bringing vaccinations to the communities;
  • Successful strategies for reaching vaccine-hesitant communities;
  • How data can be used to ensure an equitable vaccine response;
  • How vaccine distribution strategies have evolved as supply increases; and
  • What we have learned about how to build stronger and lasting relationships between communities and public health in preparation for the next pandemic or natural disaster.

This one-hour discussion is the third in the web forum series Equity in COVID-19: Bridging the Gap Between Public Health and Policy, brought to you by the Public Health Institute and IMPAQ, an affiliate of the American Institutes for Research. The series explores “in-the-news" topics, such as mental health, housing and health outcomes, and environmental health and climate change, and provides actionable insights to address equity issues by translating research into policy and practice.



Mary Pittman, DrPH
President and CEO, Public Health Institute

Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, is president and CEO of the Public Health Institute (PHI). A nationally recognized leader in improving community health, addressing health inequities among vulnerable people and promoting quality of care, Pittman assumed the reins at PHI in 2008, becoming the organization's second president and CEO since its founding in 1964. Her primary focus has been guiding the development of a strategic plan that builds on existing PHI program strengths to achieve greater impact on public policy and practice in public health.



Bechara Choucair, MD
Vaccinations Coordinator, White House COVID Response Team

Bechara Choucair, MD, is responsible for overseeing the national vaccination efforts under the Biden-Harris administration. He has been named White House COVID-19 Vaccinations Coordinator and focuses on coordinating the timely, safe, and equitable delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations for the U.S. population, in close partnership with relevant federal departments and agencies, as well as state and local authorities. Dr. Choucair also leads the administration’s ambitious effort to administer 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days.

Prior to joining the administration, Dr. Choucair served as senior vice president and chief health officer at Kaiser Permanente. Dr. Choucair oversaw the organization’s efforts focused on addressing the social health of its 12.2 million members and the 68 million people who live in the communities it serves.  This work included the creation of the nation’s largest social health network to meet the housing, food and transportation needs of its members. He also managed Kaiser Permanente’s community health portfolio, including $3.4 billion dedicated to supporting medical financial assistance and charitable care as well as grants and community health initiatives.

Before his time at Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Choucair was the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health for five years before serving as senior vice president of Safety Net and Community Health at Trinity Health. He has been named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Health Executives in the U.S., one of the Most Influential People in Healthcare and as one of the Top 25 Innovators in Healthcare.


The Rev. James D. Gailliard
Senior Pastor, Word Tabernacle Church; Representative, North Carolina General Assembly

James David Gailliard is the senior pastor of Word Tabernacle Church, a mega-church serving thousands of families in North Carolina and Virginia. The church is housed in a 110,000 square foot former Home Depot building now called The Impact Center, providing a place for programs, partnerships, and paradigms that enable people to progress. He is the founder of The Reach Center, Inc, which exists to equip individuals to secure gainful employment, prevent homelessness, and break the cycle of violence through education, skills development, and connections to community resources. In 2016, he was named the Distinguished Citizen by the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce and was re-elected in 2020 as representative for House District 25 (Nash County/Rocky Mount) in the North Carolina General Assembly. He is the first African American to hold this seat.  


Jeffrey Reynoso, DrPH, MPH
Executive Director, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California

Jeffrey Reynoso, DrPH, is the executive director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, the state’s leading policy organization advocating for health equity of the Latino community. In his role, he is responsible for strategic leadership and external relations, fundraising and financial management, organizational development of the staff and board, and delivering on policy advocacy and programmatic initiatives. For over a decade, he has worked on health equity and social justice issues spanning academia, government, and non-profit sectors at multiple levels, including local/regional, state, and national. Most recently, he was a doctoral fellow at Kaiser Permanente, where he designed innovative programs to address food insecurity in the Southern California region. Reynoso is the first Latino to receive a doctorate in public health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and he completed his master’s in public health at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and his Bachelor of Arts at UCLA. 


Sen. Mary K. Kunesh, MA
Senator, Minnesota Legislature

Sen. Mary Kunesh served two terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives before coming to the Senate in 2021. She represents Senate District 41; serves on the Redistricting Committee and E-12 Committee; and is the DFL lead on the Mining and Forestry Committee. Kunesh was born in Saint Paul and raised in Sartell, Minnesota. Her mother is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and her father has worked as a St. Cloud City attorney and assistant Stearns County attorney. She has a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from St. Catherine University and a Master of Arts in information media from St. Cloud State University. She retired from her role as a library media specialist for Robbinsdale Area Schools in November 2020.



View the recordings of IMPAQ’s recent webinars:

This webinar is brought to you by IMPAQ, in partnership with the Public Health Institute and Dialogue4Health.