Helping people before, during and after disasters can look different depending on the community or the people that need assistance. To ensure that everyone that needs help is able to receive it, FEMA works to make sure that equity is always part of the discussion. As our vaccination distribution efforts expand, so do our equity efforts.
A Civil Rights Advisory Group was established by FEMA to evaluate the policies, practices, strategies and plans in place to identify and eliminate inequities. The goal is to ensure equity is incorporated in all activities FEMA and the Federal Government fund to vaccinate the country. The Civil Rights Advisory group is led by FEMA’s Office of Equal rights and is composed of FEMA program offices, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
Civil rights advisors are deployed to all regions to assist with equity in vaccine operations — from site selection to vaccine distribution. This includes community engagement, community assessments, equal access/accessibility and site inspections. These advisors support regional leadership and work to proactively consider and promptly resolve civil rights concerns.
Regional Disability Integration Specialists and Advisors are also deployed to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are integrated in all facets of vaccine center operations.
Language Services are also a priority. We continue to analyze community demographics to determine communication needs and to mobilize translation and interpretation services. FEMA is working to provide translations of outreach and public awareness information related to COVID-19 response.
Additionally, interpretation services will be available at federally supported vaccine centers. Language services will be accessible to those with Limited English Proficiency. When these over-the-phone language services are requested, non-English speaking visitors will be able to communicate, via an interpreter, with staff at vaccine centers.
FEMA’s Office of Equal Rights is helping our partners guarantee access to programs and activities, and the impartial and fair delivery of services. Discussions on how to create equal and meaningful access are ongoing and aimed at helping all communities, including underserved and historically marginalized communities.
If you have questions on FEMA’s efforts to ensure equitable vaccination distribution, contact FEMA’s External Civil Rights Division or visit the Office of Equal Rights webpage. Visit the Vaccine Support page for more information on how FEMA is supporting vaccination centers.