Priorities for COVID-19 Vaccine Access: Gathering Community Input Through Public Deliberation

In October 2020, UHF awarded $50,000 to the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) in support of its work, in partnership with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH), to develop and pilot a template of a virtual public deliberation that can be used by local communities to advise decision-makers with respect to community-informed preferences for accessing vaccines for COVID-19. In a public deliberation, groups of participants are asked to make recommendations on policy after receiving unbiased information about a topic, and then work to process what they have learned, develop a consensus, and make recommendations.

NYAM’s Center for Evaluation and Applied Research and NYC DOHMH virtually convened New York City residents in a public deliberation process to better understand their perspectives on equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines during the early, limited supply period. Participants were asked about the prioritization order for vaccination of essential workers by occupation (beyond already prioritized frontline healthcare workers), and the prioritization order for other risk factors like age, neighborhood, race/ethnicity, and underlying health conditions. At the end of public deliberations, participants prioritized bus drivers, schoolteachers, and grocery workers for vaccine access among essential workers, and identified underlying conditions and most-affected neighborhoods as primary considerations for vaccine access.  

Throughout the project, interim results supported NYC DOHMH’s plans for expanded vaccine eligibility categories and access, influencing the decision-making of City leaders in real time. 

Based on this pilot study in New York City, the New York Academy of Medicine has created a digital guide to public deliberation for local municipalities to use as they determine priorities in their own jurisdictions. 

This grant was made as part of a consortium of funders that included United Hospital Fund, the Altman Foundation, the de Beaumont Foundation, and New York State Health Foundation. 

Tools based on this pilot study in New York City are available on the de Beaumont Foundation’s website:
Conducting a Virtual Public Deliberation on Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution: Sample Guidance & Tools 

More information on the project can be found in the New York Academy of Medicine’s press release: 
What Do New Yorkers Think Is Fair Vaccine Distribution? 

Oct. 2, 2020
Number of Grantees
Focus Area
Clinical-Community Partnerships