Partnering for Success: The Story of One County in Ohio

Partnering for Success

COVID-19 exposed existing health inequities and generated momentum among various stakeholders around ensuring equitable access to resources and services aimed at mitigating pandemic harms. Read our new article in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, Addressing Health Equity Goals for COVID-19 Vaccination Using Integrated Data and Mapping Tools: A Collaboration Between Academia, Public Health, and Health Care Systems in Columbus and Franklin County, Ohio.

Despite the unprecedented threats and challenges posed by the pandemic, this public health emergency provided an opportunity for the adoption of novel approaches, systems, and processes for advancing public health practice. With mounting evidence of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of opportunity, in early 2021 when the phased approach of vaccine rollout was initiated, public health leaders and stakeholders in the City of Columbus and Franklin County, Ohio convened to determine how to ensure that all eligible residents in their jurisdictions were given adequate opportunity to make an informed decision on and access COVID-19 vaccination.

Problem: During the early phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, efforts to ensure equity in vaccine distribution were threatened by a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines, the scarcity of vaccine providers, and the resultant difficulty in securing vaccine appointments. Vaccine rollout was happening through a phased approach, with priority groups identified largely by age and — in the case of frontline workers — occupation.  There were major concerns about the gap in vaccine uptake between groups categorized as having a high social vulnerability and groups categorized as having a low social vulnerability.

Public health leaders asked: How do we ensure that when the COVID-19 vaccine supply is readily available, approaches utilized to ensure equity in distribution and uptake are data-enabled, resilient, and adaptive?

Our Solution: A partnership between public health, healthcare, and academia led to the rapid development, implementation, and continuous improvement of a data-enabled approach for communication, engagement, and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. We used the Equity Mapping Tool to track and capture vulnerability in its broadest terms and informed multiple strategies in our respective sectors and jurisdictions for reaching residents and vulnerable groups throughout the community.

What did we do?

We developed integrated tools, workflows, and processes to help eliminate data silos among stakeholders who typically do not share timely and granular data, and build capacity data-enabled decision making during public health crises — both the current pandemic and others to come. We used the Engagement, Analytics, and Translation framework, which was developed by our academic partner (Ayaz Hyder in the Computational Epidemiology Lab), and applied it to COVID-19 vaccination efforts. 

What was the impact?

Franklin County Public Health used the Equity Mapping Tool to track the gap in vaccination uptake among neighborhoods with high and low social vulnerability to identify the most vulnerable communities and understand the social determinants of health with the greatest impact on these residents. 

Columbus Public Health used the Equity Mapping Tool to identify and activate locations for 122 unique mobile vaccine clinics, provide access to a curated list of current and planned pop-up/mobile sites, and develop real-time monitoring and evaluation dashboard for the Vax-Cash program, an incentivized vaccination initiative, which improved the racial disparity gap in Columbus’ neighborhoods with the highest SVI and serving new American populations who traditionally lack access to healthcare services. 

OhioHealth, which is a not-for-profit healthcare system in Central Ohio, used the tool to identify new clinic locations and targeted their mobile health enterprise—Wellness on Wheels—to specific neighborhoods to close the racial gap in vaccination uptake. 

Looking ahead

Currently, the Equity Mapping Tool is part of a Community Health Workers for COVID Response and Resilient Communities (CCR) grant to the Ohio Department of Health and partners as a Component C – Demonstration Project. Through this funding, the Equity Mapping Tool is being scaled up and expanded to over 76 counties in Ohio in partnership with regional community health networks and their public health, healthcare system, and social service partners. As part of this demonstration project, we are applying the lessons learned through the initial work that started in Columbus and Franklin County, Ohio.

Read our new article in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice:

Related articles:

  1. Hyder A, Trinh A, Padmanabhan P, Marschhausen J, Wu A, Evans A, Iyer R, Jones A. COVID-19 Surveillance for Local Decision Making : An Academic, School District, and Public Health Collaboration. Public Health Rep. 2021 Jul-Aug;136(4):403-412. doi: 10.1177/00333549211018203. Epub 2021 May 12. PMID: 33979558; PMCID: PMC8203033.

Ayaz Hyder, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the College of Public Health at The Ohio State University. He is a computational epidemiologist who works to translate data analytics tools and computational models into public health practice. Learn more about his current areas of focus at


Cheryl Graffagnino MS, RD, LD, is a Program Officer with the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations, supporting development and implementation of the Foundations’ grantmaking strategy. Previously, she served as a Program Manager at Columbus Public Health with a focus on food access and supported vaccine equity outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Alexandria (Alex) Jones, MS, RN, CPH, is Assistant Health Commissioner and Director of Prevention and Wellness at Franklin County Public Health. Ms. Jones serves in statewide and local leadership positions. She earned a Bachelors and Masters of Science in Nursing, Public Health Nursing Administration specialty from the Ohio State University.

Nana Baryeh, PhD, is a Data Team Lead with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She has 10+ years of experience working with academic, nonprofit, government, and healthcare systems collecting and analyzing epidemiological data for health promotion. Previously, she served as an epidemiologist with Resolve to Save Lives.

Gold-Marie Wontumi is a public health professional, medical doctor, and recipient of a Bill and Melinda Gates Scholarship with an MPH from Johns Hopkins University. She has 15+ years of experience in the US and Ghana and has worked extensively on understanding the dynamics and drivers of health services utilization, healthcare access, health disparities, and health equity, and collaborated with stakeholders on identifying and implementing solutions to address gaps. Her experience spans maternal, child, and reproductive health, COVID-19, and other infectious diseases.

Rebecca Barbeau is a healthcare leader, passionate about connecting individuals, families, and communities, with focus on improving lives. She currently serves as the Operations Director for OhioHealth Community Health Partnerships, a regional hospital system in Columbus, Ohio, serving 47 of 88 Ohio counties. She leads OhioHealth’s clinical community outreach programs.

Autumn R. Glover, MCRP, MPA, is an accomplished and passionate leader in the areas of community engagement, health equity, and urban planning. As Senior Director for Community Health Partnerships she provides executive leadership for OhioHealth signature community health programs, including Wellness on Wheels (WOW) a mobile health enterprise providing access to care, including COVID-19 vaccinations.