The latest offering from the Bloomberg Philanthropies COVID-19 Local Response Initiative will help city leaders navigate the challenges associated with wide-scale distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine, including community engagement and private public partnerships

To watch the announcement on Wednesday, 12/9, at 10:30am ET, click HERE

New York, NY and Washington, DC — Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) today announced a new partnership to support mayors across the country as they take on the immense challenge of increasing understanding of and access to the COVID-19 vaccines for their residents. The latest offering from the Bloomberg Philanthropies COVID-19 Local Response Initiative was announced at the third annual Bloomberg American Health Summit and is a part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ nearly yearlong effort to support local officials in their efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even with vaccines on the way, the fight against COVID-19 is far from over, and mayors will continue to play a vitally important role in stopping transmission this winter,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies. “Part of the challenge they face is public distrust of the vaccines – and overcoming that distrust through education and communication is absolutely essential to ending the pandemic. Together with our longtime partner the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Bloomberg Philanthropies is ready to support mayors as they work to get their vaccine message out and help save lives.”

The program will focus on supporting cities in three key areas: resident engagement best practices; toolkits with critical guidance on vaccine administration; and a series of webinars that will provide the latest updates on vaccine development and distribution, opportunities for cities to collaborate and learn from each other, and access to experts from academia, public health, and the private sector. In addition, the program will help cities understand the best way to measure the success and impact of their efforts so that they can be better prepared for future public health emergencies. The nation’s leading public health experts at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University will provide mayors and city leaders with the latest information on the virus and vaccine, as well as how to address residents’ key concerns about the vaccine.

“Mayors have driven the local response to this pandemic from the beginning, and mayors are going to be central to ending it,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “As we enter the vaccine stage, this new partnership will save lives and livelihoods. Distributing these vaccines and building confidence in them is the last big hurdle to ending this health and economic crisis and returning to our way of life. We’re grateful to Bloomberg Philanthropies for showing consistent leadership and empowering mayors with tools to better protect their cities.”

The supply and delivery chain for the COVID-19 vaccines will be complex and mayors will have a critical role to play in bringing the lifesaving intervention to residents. They will need to play a coordinating function between state and local government as well as the private and public sectors to support the delivery, storage, and administration of the vaccines. Bloomberg Philanthropies and USCM will provide the best practices, tools, and data that mayors require to be successful in this enormous effort. Mayors will receive guidance, case studies, checklists, creative assets, and resource libraries to aid in the execution and management of this work.

Mayors will also need to lead intensive community engagement campaigns to encourage vaccine uptake amidst a polarized political climate and especially in communities of color where there is pronounced mistrust of federal health interventions. Tools and trainings specifically focused on increasing trust surrounding the vaccine – in part by helping to determine the most effective community engagement strategies, including working with respected community leaders to bring residents along  – will be an important component of the program.

“Mayors will need to be equipped to work collaboratively with trusted messengers, including faith leaders, health professionals, and other community-based organizations, to assist in addressing the concerns of residents and communicating clearly and transparently about COVID-19 vaccines, using innovative messaging and media,” said Dr. Lisa Cooper, Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity. “This is especially important for communities of color that have borne a greater burden of health disparities for centuries, are currently experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths, and that understandably have higher levels of mistrust of institutions due to historical and current experiences of discrimination.”

Additionally, the Bloomberg Philanthropies COVID-19 Local Response Initiative program will leverage the expertise of leaders from America’s four historically Black medical schools who have examined and worked to tackle vaccine hesitancy and access. In September, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a historic gift to the four schools to decrease the debt of over 800 current medical students thereby increasing the number of Black doctors in America and allowing them to be able to practice in the communities who need their expertise the most.

“This vaccination effort must begin with establishing trust, especially among people who have historically been hesitant of the healthcare and scientific communities,” said Dr. James Hildreth, President & CEO of Meharry Medical College, the nation’s largest historically Black medical school. “Trust begins with ensuring our community members hear this essential message from the right people, those health experts who look like them. Meharry is excited to support efforts to ensure all have access to the vaccine moving forward and continue the legacy of our nation’s four historically Black medical schools who are devoted to serving those who have been overlooked and underserved.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative in March to help cities combat the devastating impact of coronavirus on the wellbeing of residents and local economies. Working with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the initiative provides mayors with the most up-to-date information on the virus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and leadership guidance from experts across Harvard.

The new offering from the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative will officially kick off in January with a virtual convening of city leaders and the publication of the vaccine delivery toolkit and public engagement best practices.  Bloomberg Philanthropies and USCM will continue to convene city leaders regularly throughout the vaccine delivery process to equip them with the latest guidance and insights.  All resources will be posted online so any city can access and use them in their own planning.