Announces $18 million in vaccine equity grants for UNICEF, Save the Children, Civic Nation and others
The race to vaccinate the world against COVID-19 calls on all of us to build. If we drive up our worldwide vaccination rate, we can turn COVID-19 from a severe pathogen to a manageable virus. Every vaccination not only helps protect an individual life but also reduces community spread and tames the evolution of variants. Every vaccination means one more person can hug a friend and visit the grocery store with less fear.
With the pandemic impacting everyone around the world, we believe focusing on vaccine distribution is the best way we can make an impact at Twilio in alignment with our crisis response and prevention focus area.
That’s why in February, Twilio.org—our social impact arm—committed to helping 1 billion people over two years get access to vaccines.
Our customers and grantees are already making an incredible impact. In just 8 months, organizations using Twilio technology and funding are already helping more than 300 million people get vaccines and related information. More than 1,000 nonprofit, healthcare, and public health agencies around the world are using Twilio technology to build vaccine confidence, coordinate appointments, and send reminders. Organizations like Save the Children, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the largest healthcare provider in Brasil are protecting lives with Twilio.
In addition to serving through our products, we also pledged capital and employee expertise to support the global vaccine effort. We are proud to share that Twilio has committed $18 million USD, $7 million more than we originally pledged, as well as 1,000 hours of Twilion volunteer time and $1 million in product credits to build vaccine equity.
Read on to learn how our customers and grantees are helping to end the pandemic and get the world vaccinated.
Supporting across the vaccine lifecycle
Our grantees and customers are building digital engagement across the lifecycle of vaccines, from sourcing to distributing shots around the world, to helping people schedule their appointments, and driving interest in getting vaccinated.
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and largest procurer of vaccines in the world, coordinates a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines to Nicaragua through its COVAX program
While most high-income countries have wide vaccine availability, with close to 70 percent of populations at least one dose down, low-income countries’ vaccination rates are closer to 2 percent. Beating COVID-19 is a global challenge, and equitable vaccine access is crucial to end the acute phase of the pandemic for everyone.
That’s why Twilio has contributed $10 million to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in support of COVAX. COVAX is the only global multilateral initiative to provide COVID-19 vaccines to the most at-risk populations. With over 378 million doses delivered so far to 144 economies, COVAX is the largest and most complex rollout of vaccines in history.
“Without global vaccination, the pandemic will continue to impact the lives of billions both socially and economically,” said Moz Siddiqui, Head of Private Sector Partnerships and Innovation at Gavi. “Funding COVAX by organisations such as Twilio means more doses for lower-income countries. With even more private sector support, we can transform the lives of individuals, get on track for global economic recovery, and make the world safer for everyone.”
UNICEF personnel around the world won’t stop until all children and their families are protected against COVID-19
UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and its partners like Gavi are leading the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history. UNICEF is focused on equitably distributing vaccines through local networks and communities around the world.
“To help protect every child, we need to protect the people around them,” said Michael J. Nyenhuis, President and CEO of UNICEF USA. “UNICEF won’t stop until the fight against the pandemic is won, and our partnership with Twilio will help us increase trust in vaccines and get more doses to at-risk populations around the world.”
Children have faced significant challenges during the pandemic, from learning loss, to loss of caregivers, and reduced income for their families. Through the procurement and supply of vaccines, UNICEF is helping to protect healthcare workers and ensure the most at-risk children don’t lose access to life-saving services. With Twilio’s grant, UNICEF will focus on building trust in vaccines with community engagement and help deliver two billion doses to middle- and low-income countries. Through this work, UNICEF is making sure that there is demand and trust for vaccines when they arrive in each country.
In addition to UNICEF, many other Twilio grantees and customers are working through complex distribution challenges to reach underserved populations.
- WeRobotics is enabling locally-led vaccine deliveries in Madagascar with locally-made drones.
- PATH is training pharmacists as vaccinators in Ghana to expand access and availability.
- CARE is vaccinating communities and addressing misinformation in Haiti and Bangladesh.
“Communications technology will further our equitable vaccine initiative, enabling us to combat misinformation, provide crucial COVID-19 prevention information, and facilitate vaccine registration and access," said Dr. Angela M. Wakhweya, Senior Director, Health Equity and Rights Team at CARE. "Being able to communicate both remotely and broadly is critical because COVID-19 has severely restricted the mobility of our staff and the communities we serve.”
Editor’s note: UNICEF does not endorse any company, brand, product, or service.
Getting people to the vaccines
Scenes from a COVID-19 vaccine clinic, from Civic Nation and the Made to Save campaign
Once vaccines are available in a region, local governments and healthcare agencies face an engagement challenge in communicating that these vaccines are available, booking appointments, and reminding people to come in for up to three shots. More than 1,000 organizations across nonprofits, healthcare, and government agencies are using Twilio to support vaccine information, reminders, and appointments. From Brasil, to Sweden, to North Carolina to California, organizations are building with Twilio to drive up vaccination rates.
In order to provide an easy way for U.S. veterans to schedule vaccinations, the Department of Veteran Affairs used its VEText platform, powered by Twilio SMS. Veterans learned of appointment availability from proactive text messages, and in just a few seconds, they could schedule an appointment over text. The ease of engagement has proven effective. By the end of March, more than 150,000 veterans scheduled COVID-19 vaccination appointments using VEText.
To support other public sector agencies, Twilio grantee US Digital Response is building digital engagement programs that help residents connect with local governments for vaccine access and emergency pandemic support. Hundreds more public health and healthcare agencies around the world, including MACC in Sweden, Penn Medicine Nudge Unit, St. Luke’s University Health Network, and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, built communications to help people get trusted information and easily schedule appointments for vaccinations.
Addressing hesitancy and building confidence
A mom and daughter attend a back to school vaccine drive for undocumented students organized by ImmSchools, a partner of the Mobile Pathways Vaccine Coalition
Nonprofit organizations and NGOs are bridging the information gap between healthcare, the public sector, and communities. Many people do not have easy access to get the vaccine and may be concerned about side effects. Others may have had negative experiences themselves, or in their communities, with healthcare systems and governments. Nonprofits are collaborating with communities to get their questions answered, share trusted information, and build vaccine confidence.
For instance, international NGO Save the Children found that many people living in India, Bangladesh, Kenya, and the Philippines had concerns about COVID-19 vaccines. “People want a trusted and safe space to ask their questions about the vaccine,” said Mark Summer, Senior Advisor Technology and Data for Development at Save the Children. “So we used Twilio to build an informational chatbot on SMS, WhatsApp, and Voice to help address concerns.” The bot is trained to answer common questions, like what are the side effects, how to access the vaccine, and how it's been tested. By addressing questions and empowering people to share verified information with their own communities, Save the Children can now help millions more people get vaccinated.
In the U.S., we are partnering with many local nonprofits focused on building trust in underserved communities and using communications technology to scale their efforts. Each community-led, culturally aware conversation drives a massive impact in increasing vaccination rates and keeping people safe.
- Civic Nation’s Made to Save campaign is engaging Black, Latinx, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, and Indigenous communities by building trust, providing information, and ensuring vaccines are accessible no matter where someone lives or works.
- Mobile Pathways is providing immigrant communities with culturally appropriate vaccine information through its vaccine coalition.
- Partners In Health is increasing vaccine access in underserved communities by training vaccine ambassadors in Chicago, Newark, and Montgomery to provide education, schedule appointments, and arrange transportation.
- CareMessage is working with underinsured and uninsured communities through local clinics to provide education and support.
“Through our work with more than 600 partners and nearly 100 grantees, we’ve been able to have hundreds of thousands of conversations to help address the concerns of communities of color and increase vaccinations across the country,” said Dr. Alice Chen, Medical Advisor at Made to Save. “This work is more urgent than ever because of the Delta variant, and the support of Twilio will allow us to inform even more people and protect themselves and the people they love.”
A family celebrates getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Credit: Civic Nation
For organizations and developers building solutions for vaccines, we’d love to collaborate with you.
- Check out our quick deploy chatbot template for a head start on building vaccine confidence in your community.
- Learn how Twilio products can support your vaccine equity and distribution efforts by reaching out to talk to our team.
- Get involved in doing good by visiting and contributing to the newly released Code Exchange for Good, a hub for open source social impact apps!
With every additional person vaccinated, we are one step closer to ending this pandemic. Thank you to all of our partners and developers building a healthier and brighter future.