Disadvantage indices, such as the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index, can help policymakers assess the health of a community and target programs and services in response to community needs. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing number of states have used these tools to inform their policy response, including decisions regarding the allocation and distribution of vaccines. This webinar discussed states’ use of disadvantage indices to inform their COVID-19 vaccination efforts and surface lessons learned and questions for evaluation. The goal was to highlight early learnings to inform states’ ongoing vaccination efforts as well as potential future uses of indices to advance health equity. 

Supported by Blue Shield of California Foundation, this webinar builds on a June 2021 AcademyHealth workshop that convened state and federal policymakers, researchers, and others to discuss emerging lessons and ongoing challenges related to the use of indices to inform COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

View the slides from the webinar here.

Learning Objectives

Drawing on the experiences and perspectives of policymakers and researchers, this webinar will:

  • Provide an overview of disadvantage indices and states’ diverse uses of these tools to inform COVID-19 vaccine distribution and related efforts. 
  • Surface best practices, challenges, and lessons learned that have emerged from states’ use of indices to date.
  • Consider evaluation and other questions related to states’ use of indices that, if answered, could help inform whether and how states apply these tools in the future to address social determinants of health and advance health equity.

Watch Recorded Webinar

Speaker List


Hemi Tewarson

Hemi Tewarson, J.D., M.P.H.

Executive Director - National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP)

Hemi Tewarson, J.D., M.P.H. is the Executive Director of the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP). Read Bio


Schmidt, Harald

Harald Schmidt, Ph.D., M.A.

Assistant Professor - University of Pennsylvania

Harald Schmidt PhD, MA, is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, and a... Read Bio

Rohan Radhakrishna headshot

Rohan Radhakrishna, M.D., M.P.H.

Deputy Director - California Department of Public Health (CDPH)

Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to lead the Office of Health Equity (OHE) and se... Read Bio

David Rickless headshot

David Rickless, M.S.

Geographer and Geospatial Technologist - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

David Rickless is a geographer and geospatial technologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/A... Read Bio


John Auerbach
Committee Member

John Auerbach, M.B.A.

Director of Intergovernmental and Strategic Affairs - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

John Auerbach is the Director of Intergovernmental and Strategic Affairs at CDC. Read Bio