Community Health Workers (CHWs) have played a key role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and our STAR2 Center’s new “Checklist for Administrators, Managers, and Clinicians to Integrate Community Health Workers in Vaccine Outreach, Acceptance, and Distribution Strategies” explores how health centers can best support and utilize CHWS in this vital work.

Since the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, global health leaders, health providers, legislators, policy makers, and funders have called for the rapid scale up and integration of CHWs to strengthen public health and local and state COVID-19 response plans. On March 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) demonstrated the urgency to engage CHWs in a pandemic when it issued guidance to states, tribes and territories that classified CHWs as essential critical infrastructure workers during COVID-19.

Despite this national recognition, in the early months of the pandemic, many CHWs experienced layoffs and furloughs from their health systems and clinic employers who were unsure of how CHWs’ qualities, roles, and skills could be leveraged during the pandemic. Administrators, human resource professionals, clinical directors, and all members of the care team need clear, actionable guidance to tailor and implement effective onboarding of community health workers into new vaccine initiative response roles

It is essential that health center administrators, managers, and care teams understand how to effectively leverage the skills and experience of CHWs and adequately support and prepare them for this work. Our new resource, prepared for the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved’s STAR² Center by the National Association of Community Health Workers, contains guidance and action items to help health center teams effectively incorporate these essential workers as part of vaccine rollout efforts. This checklist also contains select resources for CHW engagement, COVID-19, and other issues.