A One Year Lookback at CoVAC and HECCOP
As the American College Health Association looks back at the past year of working on U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Cooperative Agreement CK20-2003, we
consider how the Higher Education COVID-19 Community of Practice (HECCOP) and Campus
COVID-19 Vaccination and Mitigation (CoVAC) Initiative have both advanced the mission of
ACHA and served the field of higher education during this time of historic importance. This summary represents selected highlights from HECCOP and CoVAC activities from February
2021 to February 2022.
CoVAC Initiative Year 2 Project Description
The Campus COVID-19 Vaccination and Mitigation (CoVAC) Initiative is a project of the American College Health Association, funded by a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal of the CoVAC Initiative is to support healthy and thriving campus communities. This requires:
- Federal, state, and local public health policies that empower institutions of higher education (IHEs) to use every available public health tool to protect campuses and neighboring communities from COVID-19;
- Implementation of effective, equitable, inclusive and layered prevention strategies by IHEs to reduce COVID-19 transmission on college campuses and in their surrounding communities; and
- Active engagement of students, staff, faculty and members of the surrounding community in an evidence-based combination of strategies to prevent and respond to COVID-19.
To that end, the CoVAC Initiative will:
- Equip campus professionals to lead interventions that build vaccine-preventable disease preparedness at the community level and confidence at the individual level;
- Expand the Higher Education COVID-19 Community of Practice (HECCOP) to engage multidisciplinary campus personnel and students in behavioral risk mitigation, including high rates of COVID-19 vaccine uptake;
- Increase COVID-19 vaccination awareness and visibility;
- Combat COVID-19 vaccine misinformation; and
- Leverage campus and community assets to promote masking, physical distancing, handwashing, and vaccination.
The CoVAC Initiative will
- Collect, analyze, and visualize data regarding COVID-19 vaccinations in campus communities
- Educate campus health professionals regarding COVID-19 vaccination best practices through webinars, workshops, publications, videos, and a curated resource library
- Publish a campus vaccine confidence toolkit
- Launch a campus engagement campaign
In February 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ACHA entered into a cooperative agreement funding two projects: The Higher Education COVID-19 Community of Practice (HECCOP) and the Campus COVID-19 Vaccine Initiative (CoVAC). HECCOP focused on bolstering behavioral mitigation strategies through peer-to-peer engagement, and CoVAC focused on building COVID-19 vaccine confidence across campus. The two project teams worked closely together to provide a cohesive strategy for COVID-19 management on college campuses, producing educational content, publications, and toolkits through into the start of the Fall 2021 semester.
The two projects were scheduled to conclude at the end of September 2021; however, the CDC extended the CoVAC Initiative through September 2022. Because institutions of higher education manage the COVID-19 pandemic holistically, ACHA, with CDC’s approval, chose to merge the critically important components of HECCOP into the CoVAC Initiative. Beginning in October 2021, the scope of the CoVAC Initiative will expand to empowering institutions of higher education to use every available public health tool to protect campuses and neighboring communities from COVID-19 by implementing effective, equitable, inclusive and layered prevention strategies to reduce COVID-19 transmission on campus and in their surrounding communities.
Where to Find Us
See the locations where we've been active in 2021.
CoVAC Initiative Health Equity Statement
This statement is based upon materials from the World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American College Health Association.*
The Campus COVID-19 Vaccination and Mitigation (CoVAC) Initiative is a project of the American College Health Association (ACHA), funded by a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CoVAC Initiative will be guided by the following existing definitions and positions on health equity from ACHA, the CDC, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
ACHA recognizes that systems of oppression such as racism, cissexism, heterosexism, sexism, and ableism directly cause poor health outcomes and contribute to community distrust of public health institutions that prevents access to critical resources. The CoVAC Initiative endeavors to recognize the impact of systemic inequities on the populations we serve, advance equitable policies and practices, and empower campus community members to take action within their organizations and fields to eliminate those inequities wherever they may be found.
The CDC defines health equity in the context of COVID-19 as follows:
Health equity is when everyone has the opportunity to be as healthy as possible. Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.
To stop the spread of COVID-19 and move toward greater health equity, we must work together to ensure resources are available to maintain and manage physical and mental health, including easy access to information, affordable testing, and medical and mental health care.
The CDC offers the following guiding principles for an equitable COVID-19 response:
Reduce health disparities. Use data-driven approaches. Foster meaningful engagement with community institutions and diverse leaders. Lead culturally responsive outreach. Reduce stigma, including stigma associated with race and ethnicity.
Specifically relating to COVID-19 vaccination, the WHO states the “overarching goal is for COVID-19 vaccines to contribute significantly to the equitable protection and promotion of human well-being among all people of the world” and calls for “equity in vaccine access and benefit within countries for groups experiencing greater burdens from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
ACHA’s Non-Discrimination Policy affirms that a campus climate guided by the values of inclusion, respect, equality, and equity is essential to college health.
ACHA’s Statement in Support of Vaccine Use to Promote Health and Prevent Disease supports the use of vaccines to protect the health of our individual students and our campus communities.
ACHA Non-Discrimination Policy
ACHA Statement in Support of Vaccine Use to Promote Health and Prevent Disease
ACHA Implementation Guide for Sexual Health Best Practices in College Health Settings (accessed 3/11/21)
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: COVID-19: Community, Work & School -- Health Equity (accessed 3/11/21)
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC COVID-19 Response Health Equity Strategy: Accelerating Progress Towards Reducing COVID-19 Disparities and Achieving Health Equity (accessed 10/18/2021)
World Health Organization: WHO SAGE values framework for the allocation and prioritization of COVID-19 vaccination (Sep. 14, 2020)