Way to Health

COVID Vaccine Community Clinics

In a concerted effort to address racial inequities. Penn Medicine partnered with Mercy Health, local pastors and the community in West and Southwest Philadelphia, to set up a community vaccination clinic. The goal was to vaccinate 500 individuals who met the 1A or 1B criteria set forth by the city. Way to Health provided the texting and IVR backends to enable registration and appointment scheduling prior. 557 patients were vaccinated. The next clinic on Feb 27th intends to vaccinate 750. The one after that will hopefully vaccinate 1500.

Feb 24, 2021

Kathleen Lee, MD Kathleen Lee, MD
Lauren Hahn, MA Lauren Hahn, MA
Neda Khan, MHCI Neda Khan, MHCI


Black Americans are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, and twice as likely to become hospitalized with COVID than their white counterparts. Thus far, they are also statistically under-vaccinated for COVID-19, largely due to both difficulty in accessing the shots and an underlying mistrust of the larger health care industry. The intent of this program was to begin to address these inequities, partner with local church and faith leaders and with organizations such as Mercy Health which has been treating people in this neighborhood for over a century. The initial goal was to provide vaccines to elderly people in the 1A and 1B vaccination phases who may be less comfortable with technology.

Intervention and Design

Clinic 1 - February 13th, 2021

Led by Dr. Kathleen Lee, Dr. Eugenia South, Lauren Hahn, Neda Khan and many others, the team reached out to pastors and other faith leaders in the community to organize a mass vaccination event targeted at older and more vulnerable citizens. Pastors were initially asked to collect phone numbers from congregants who would be interested in getting vaccinated. In addition, an SMS based program was set up that citizens could text into to indicate interest as well as schedule their appointment. Additional demographic information was also collected during this process such as age, name, date of birth etc. A similar flow was set up using IVR (Interactive Voice Recording) to provide an alternate channel for less tech-savvy individuals.

Between the three channels, the 500 slots were filled in less than 24 hours. A tremendous amount of work went into the operational aspects of this including paper forms, data collection to report back to the city, logistics of setting up the site, flows of people and associated stations and more.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Way to Health Use

Clinic 2 - February 27th, 2021

The same team built on the learnings from the first clinic and further refined the program. To be more inclusive, the site of this next clinic was switched to a local rec center. This was to address concerns of local Muslim communities and to also take advantage of larger space availability given the target is now 750+ vaccinations in the same time period.

For this clinic, the decision was made to make the entire interaction inbound i.e. community leaders would not need to collect phone numbers. They would just publicize the phone number(s) and interested citizens would either text or call those numbers. The flow was also enhanced to capture more information about allergies and more. INspitae of this added friction, we had 70 and 80 year old citizens complete the flow in it’s entirety. Between the two channels, the 750 slots were filled in less than 24 hours. There was hiccup in the process when someone tweeted one of the numbers and also posted it on Facebook. This led to a number of requests from non-qualified individuals (20 years olds with no significant health issues etc.). These had to be handled manually. We will enhance the program logic to address this case the best that we can going forward.

Main Outcomes and Measures after 6 clinics

Way to Health Use

Publications and Press

  • Hospitals, churches partner for West Philly COVID-19 vaccine clinic to help vulnerable
  • Black church leaders, health systems organize mass vaccination site in West Philadelphia
  • Operationalizing Equity: A Rapid-Cycle Innovation Approach to Covid-19 Vaccination in Black Neighborhoods