Hy-Vee pharmacist giving a vaccine

Hy-Vee CEO has call with White House, CDC on COVID-19 vaccine accessibility in underserved communities

Hy-Vee CEO and president Randy Edeker spoke with officials from the CDC and the White House about how retailers are helping underserved populations gain access to the COVID vaccine.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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On Thursday, Hy-Vee Chairman, CEO and president Randy Edeker participated in a call with the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Rochelle Walensky and White House COVID-19 Response coordinator and counselor to the President Jeff Zients. The discussion focused on the Administration’s future rollout plans for the vaccine as well as how retailers are helping underserved populations gain access to vaccine.

Using its fleet of Hy-Vee Healthy You Mobiles, Hy-Vee has been able to travel to both large and small communities across the Midwest to provide more accessibility to the vaccine. Hy-Vee also has used onsite interpreters and translated documents and signs to help overcome language barriers.

In late April, Hy-Vee announced that appointments are no longer required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at Hy-Vee Pharmacy locations. This enables people to walk in and receive their vaccine when it is most convenient for them. Hy-Vee also is hosting pop-up vaccination clinics at community events to provide even greater vaccine access by meeting people where they plan to be. Hy-Vee will continue its efforts to reach underserved populations, working with local organizations to plan more community COVID-19 vaccination clinics throughout its eight-state region.

“At Hy-Vee, our mission is to make lives easier, healthier and happier, and that mission has never been more important than now,” said Edeker. “Throughout this pandemic, local pharmacies have become the hub of neighborhood health care. With the help of regional pharmacy teams like Hy-Vee and our community partners, we’ve been able to help protect some of our most vulnerable populations against this virus.”

In Iowa, prior to Hy-Vee having access to the COVID-19 vaccine, the state was 48th in percent of vaccines administered. Today, Iowa is 5th in percent of vaccines administered.

Hy-Vee’s most recent efforts and partnerships to bring community vaccination clinics to underserved populations include the following:

  • In an effort to reach non-English speaking populations and those with limited access to internet and transportation, Hy-Vee partnered with 211 Iowa to host the state’s largest COVID-19 vaccination clinic to-date, vaccinating more than 3,500 individuals on April 3. A second dose clinic was held on April 24. Individuals called 211 where a vaccine navigator assisted them in scheduling an appointment and offered translation services, if needed. The clinic was held in downtown Des Moines, strategically located near a Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority bus stop, which provides free transportation to/from vaccine appointments. Bilingual volunteers and staff were onsite during the clinic and signs were posted throughout the clinic in both English and Spanish to help guide Spanish-speaking populations. Hy-Vee held another, similar clinic in early April with 211 in Waterloo, Iowa, vaccinating more than 1,100 individuals.
  •  Hy-Vee collaborated with its long-time community partner the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo. to help vaccinate underserved residents of the 18th & Vine District through hosting weekly vaccination clinics at the museum during March and April. Each Monday for six weeks, approximately 650 individuals were vaccinated at the clinic. Using its strong relations within the local community, the NLBM was able to promote the weekly clinics through flyers and word-of-mouth. Hy-Vee also worked with the museum to host walk-in sign-up hours prior to the clinics to allow area residents who did not have access to internet or needed further assistance in scheduling an appointment, an opportunity to do so in person.
  • In Storm Lake, Iowa, Hy-Vee is partnering with Salud, a non-profit dedicated to advancing health equity, to help vaccinate underserved populations in the community. A clinic was held on April 11 to vaccinate the local Laotian community and an information session was held prior to the clinic to address the current COVID-19 vaccination progress, vaccination concerns and possible vaccine side effects, with local Laotian community leaders helping translate and field questions. Another clinic was held on April 18 to help vaccination the large Hispanic and Latino community in Storm Lake, and a similar clinic was held on May 2 to provide vaccinations for the Pacific Islander community there.
  • In Grand Island and Norfolk, Neb., Hy-Vee partnered with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services in April to hold vaccination clinics for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, along with their caregivers.
  • Since February, Hy-Vee has partnered with more than 250 facilities to hold onsite vaccination clinics for employees. The majority of the onsite clinics have been for front line essential workers in the manufacturing and food processing industries, many of whom are minorities and/or non-English speaking.