Rockford, Illinois News

Pritzker announces Community Connectors vaccine initiative

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Wednesday the Vaccine Community Connectors initiative to leverage health plans to reduce COVID-19 vaccination disparities with a focus on seniors 65 years and older in the most vulnerable communities.

The program is sponsored by America’s Health Insurance Program (AHIP) and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and is a collaboration between health plans and the State of Illinois to help provide vaccine outreach, scheduling, and transportation for the state’s most vulnerable residents.

“Prioritizing equity has been a critical component in every phase of the state’s vaccine administration plan. In particular, we have intentionally set aside allocations of vaccine for providers in communities with a high social vulnerability index and have engaged with community partners to provide vaccinations in a way that is accessible by local communities,”Pritzker said. “Through this public-private partnership, the first of its kind in the nation, we will be able to better coordinate resources and provider more efficient vaccine access for our seniors.”

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said: “This pandemic has pulled together many health care and public health partners to help prevent severe illness and death due to COVID-19 and I am excited about the public-private partnerships that have been built – now including the Vaccine Community Connectors program.”

Ezike said as the vaccine has rolled out, the state has prioritized older residents with a focused on equity.

“Our continued collaboration with our private partners can help us move forward in this endeavor and help save lives,” she said.

Participating health plans, supported by AHIP, BCBSA, Illinois Association of Medicaid Health Plans (IAMHP), and Illinois Life and Health Insurance Council (ILHIC) will partner by
identify seniors who live in vulnerable communities who are members of participating plans who have not yet been vaccinated.

Providers will work with the state and community partners to educate seniors on the safety, efficacy, and value of the vaccine; leverage health plan care coordinators to contact those individuals to facilitate appointment scheduling and answer questions; and coordinate services to overcome barriers that may stand between those individuals and getting vaccinated, including transportation; and work with state leaders to deliver vaccines to underserved communities.