Communicating About Efficacy and Effectiveness in the Context of Equity in Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution

The public, especially members of communities subject to historical and current health inequities, must also be able to judge how equitably the vaccines are being distributed and have access to means of expressing their views on how distribution programs are designed and executed.

Transparent, clear communication about vaccine distribution is needed for community observers to judge how well equity has been achieved and to guide needed changes. Lack of such communication has eroded trustworthiness of the process in some Black and Indigenous communities and other communities of color—who already face health inequities including greater exposure to infection and lack of access to quality health care.

Public officials can help secure warranted confidence and build trust in vaccine distribution programs by doing the following:

  • 1 Using public engagement and effective communication to connect with their target audience and building or maintaining trust with them.
  • 2 Engaging with their communities to proactively explain their vaccination program’s rationale and soliciting community feedback on distribution strategies.
  • 3 Using effective communication, including focusing on audience concerns, using well-defined accessible terms, presenting evidence clearly, acknowledging social and historical context, and engaging trusted intermediaries.


Learn More

These rapid expert consultations were produced by SEAN (supported by the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation) and the Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats (supported by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Science and Technology Policy).

Read the guidance online at

How can SEAN help?

Are you a policy maker? Do you have a question you need answered? SEAN will consider the most pressing questions and engage the nation’s experts to focus on your challenges. Contact us at or 202-334-3440.

SEAN is a network of experts in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences poised to assist decision makers at all levels as they respond to COVID-19. The network appreciates any and all feedback on its work. Please send comments to