Publications / Making Flu Vaccinations Easy: SCAN Health Plan’s Tactics to Reduce Racial Disparities

Making Flu Vaccinations Easy: SCAN Health Plan’s Tactics to Reduce Racial Disparities

While campaigns promoting flu vaccination are commonplace this time of year, flu campaigns that aim to eliminate racial disparities in vaccination status are less common. That’s exactly what SCAN Health Plan set out to do after realizing that just 47.5% of Black members were vaccinated compared to 60.4% of white members.

SCAN, which has 285,000 members across four states, is driven by a mission to keep seniors healthy and living independently. Learnings from past efforts to boost vaccinations and conversations with the community have indicated that vaccine uptake is inhibited among their Black membership by three main factors: lack of easy access to vaccinations, mistrust in health care institutions, and hesitancy about vaccinations.

Photo of Chiamaka Ugorji
Chiamaka Ugorji

“There is still huge mistrust between the Black community and the medical community, unfortunately… Sometimes members reveal incidents that have occurred that really impact their decision to continue to engage,” noted Chiamaka Ugorji, program manager for Strategic Initiatives at SCAN.

Through a multi-channel approach and partnerships with community organizations, SCAN plans  not only to minimize disparities in flu vaccination for their members in Los Angeles, but also to engage members year-round and establish themselves as a trusted voice for health care.

Ugorji recently sat down the California Improvement Network to share SCAN’s variety of tactics, lessons learned through the process, and next steps in their efforts to eliminate racial disparities in flu vaccinations.

Making health a year-round undertaking

Photo of pharmacy staff giving a flu vaccination at a popup opportunity with SCAN Health Plan in Compton, CA in 2023.
Pharmacy staff giving a flu vaccination at a popup opportunity with SCAN Health Plan in Compton, CA in 2023.

By far, the most important lesson learned for SCAN throughout this process was to start planning for flu season as early as possible. Time is the most critical resource in this effort, whether it is the time it takes to build trust in the community or overcoming the lengthy administrative process involved in establishing partnerships.

This year, SCAN began their outreach in the summer but realized that they were still running against the clock when flu season got underway. Next year, they will plan in the spring to allow for ample time to conduct outreach, clear administrative hurdles, and account for any unprecedented obstacles along the way. SCAN will continue to build on their partnerships down the line to deliver other care services to their members so that they can establish long-term relationships.

Engaging members can be tough and sustaining engagement is a huge challenge that takes time to cultivate. However, hearing from members about the barriers they face in medical care is critical for SCAN’s ability to provide high-quality services and build rapport within the community. Developing this trust so that members feel safe and motivated to stay connected requires time and patience.


Community partnerships help deliver care and build trust

Partnering with community-based organizations, which already have established reputations and are rooted in the community, enabled SCAN to build trust and increase awareness of its presence and services. These partnerships helped SCAN to reach the community through multiple avenues, tailor messaging to the audiences served, and meet the community where they are, both literally and metaphorically.

Through partnerships with local organizations and members of the community, SCAN was invited to participate in community events in majority-Black neighborhoods. SCAN offered flu vaccines for the entire family at these events, regardless of whether they were SCAN members, which further helped develop trust.

SCAN also partnered with providers with name recognition in the Black community to lead their Flu TeleTalks – virtual webinars that aim to raise awareness on the importance of vaccinations and dispel common misconceptions. Through these talks, SCAN provided their members with a judgement-free venue for individuals to ask questions of a trusted community member.

Ugorji noted, “At health fairs and in teletalks, we are able to offer more education and create environments where our members feel safe to ask questions. Which isn’t necessarily the case when they’re in the clinician’s office.”

Photo of SCAN Health Plan staff at a health and vaccination info table during a community outreach event in Compton, CA in 2023.
SCAN Health Plan staff at a health and vaccination info table during a community outreach event in Rancho Cienego, CA in 2023.

SCAN also partners with Same Sky Health, which deploys digital community health guides. Using culturally sensitive outreach communications to SCAN members, this content feels more authentic to their audiences than typical medical content. Their call-based campaign provides members information about the flu and assists with scheduling vaccinations.

To help members overcome any transportation barriers, SCAN partnered with Homebase Medical to provide in-home vaccination services for individuals with mobility issues and those who prefer receiving vaccinations at home. Such home visits give SCAN insights into what might be impacting members that are otherwise invisible, such as nutrition and environmental issues.

Through all these partnerships, SCAN made sure that those delivering care or providing messaging were representative of the Black community to further establish trust.

Flu campaign is a hook on which to hang other primary care services

With their Black community, specifically, SCAN hopes to leverage their partnerships for other types of medical interventions such as cancer and cardiovascular screenings. In the coming years, SCAN plans to take a deeper dive into their member data and develop other initiatives that are tailored to social risk factors such as food insecurity.

Additionally, SCAN intends to use learnings from the flu vaccine campaign and adapt them to deliver RSV or COVID vaccinations. Now that SCAN has established partnerships with other community groups in the Black community, they anticipate that similar campaigns will take fewer resources to launch in the future. SCAN already offers COVID vaccines in conjunction with flu, and they will continue to expand on these partnerships and amplify their efforts.

Over time, SCAN hopes that with increased brand awareness they become a more trusted resource for health care so that they are able to do more standalone events and continue to reduce disparities by building on the foundation that they have laid.


This profile of SCAN’s health equity initiative is an example of how the California Improvement Network synthesizes and shares actionable ways to improve the health of Californians. To learn more, see the CIN website and sign up for the CIN newsletter.

SCAN Health Plan is a partner organization of the California Improvement Network, which is a project of the California Health Care Foundation and managed by Healthforce Center at UCSF.



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