Skip to Content
Skip to Footer

Vaccine Management

Forging Pandemic Partnerships: How the Salesforce Ecosystem is Enabling Equitable Vaccine Distribution

doctor talking to patient wearing protective face mask

  • Throughout the many stages of the pandemic, people who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 have needed the right information and resources to combat the virus.
  • Customers around the world, like Lake County, IL, have been building resources tailored for the communities that they serve to help mitigate the spread of the virus since its onset last March.
  • With vaccine distribution gaining speed, partners like Slalom have built and implemented Salesforce solutions for customers to enable seamless vaccine orchestration for government organizations, healthcare workers and everyday citizens alike.

An elderly grandparent in an assisted living facility. A factory worker navigating new regulations on the job. An immigrant family struggling with rules and restrictions due to language barriers. These are just a few examples of people who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. 

Throughout the stages of the pandemic, it’s been imperative that all people—regardless of the communities that they are part of—have the right information and resources to combat COVID-19. And when vaccines arrived more quickly than anticipated in December 2020, government and healthcare organizations nationwide turned to Salesforce to reach the populations most impacted with life-saving vaccines.

Salesforce technology: Powering us through the pandemic

Salesforce has been at the forefront of developing solutions to aid businesses across industries through the pandemic — and Salesforce partners, with their unique expertise across the Salesforce Customer 360, have been quick to extend Salesforce capabilities to customers who’ve needed to transform their operating models and digital strategies practically overnight. 

When Salesforce launched Work.com in May, aiming to help organizations safely reopen in the wake of COVID-19, Partners quickly built solutions on top of Work.com to power disaster recovery, visitor management systems, supply chain operations and more. 

The launch of Vaccine Cloud in January was no different, with partners such as Accenture, Coastal Cloud and MTX working with governments from California to Florida to implement Salesforce-based vaccine orchestration platforms at record speed.

When FDA-authorized vaccines were authorized in the United States, Salesforce consulting partner Slalom embraced the challenges head-on and built a solution enabling Lake County, Illinois to help more than 40,000 residents schedule their vaccinations within 24 hours after launch.

Lake County: Building trust amid the pandemic

Lake County, nestled north of Chicago and next to Lake Michigan, reported its first case of COVID-19 on March 11, 2020. 

Jefferson McMillan-Wilhoit, Director of Health Informatics and Technology at the Lake County Health Department (LCHD), had been monitoring the spread of the virus around the world. When it hit Lake County, his team mobilized, setting up an Emergency Operations Center to investigate where cases were coming from, and determining how to best combat the spread. 

As the weeks progressed, it became evident that certain communities in Lake County were disproportionately affected by the virus. Those who identified as Black and Latinx, as well as the elderly, were contracting the virus at extremely high rates. When accounting for age differences in populations, for every white person in the county that had COVID-19, there were five Black and nine Latinx residents who contracted the virus.

It’s been widely reported that throughout history, Black patients have experienced mistreatment in the medical field, leading some members in Black communities to mistrust vaccinations. In Latinx communities, there’s often a language barrier that can lead to less awareness around necessary precautions. And both communities include a large percentage of essential and factory workers who are exposed to COVID-19 risks on the job. 

“To help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 for these communities, there’s an education piece — but there’s also a trust piece,” said McMillan-Wilhoit. “We have to build trust within these communities with a ‘virus-like’ mentality, so that the message can spread far and wide.” 

To help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 for these communities, there’s an education piece — but there’s also a trust piece.

Jefferson McMillan-Wilhoit, Director of Health Informatics and Technology, LCHD

To make this happen, LCHD launched two Community Partnership Groups. Lake County enlisted trusted partners — usually individuals that are already part of these minority groups — to educate their communities on COVID-19 and vaccination resources. A crucial part of the program is listening to these ambassadors and to members of disproportionately affected communities to truly understand their needs. 

As a result of these partnership groups, LCHD started to distribute PPE kits to relevant communities, amping up housing assistance for those who needed it, and tailoring educational resources in hopes of meeting these communities’ needs.

“It’s the communities’ lived experience that we need to understand in order to make our efforts effective,” said McMillan-Wilhoit. “The goal is to put specific emphasis on those communities to try to understand them so that we can figure out the unique pieces of information and action that they need. That’s the key to making them more resilient and more effective at combating the virus.”

LCHD also has teams in place to replicate the efforts of the partnership groups for citizens living in assisted living facilities, detention centers and more. And with vaccines now available for certain segments of the population, much of these efforts are focused on educating specific populations on how they can get vaccinated and why it’s important.

Learn more about Lake County’s efforts to vaccinate its entire community:

Partnering to combat COVID-19

Before the COVID-19 vaccines received emergency use authorization, LCHD leveraged legacy systems to manage electronic health records and mass vaccinations — building on past successes such as the H1N1 crisis in 2009. 

But due to the immense reach and potential destruction of COVID-19, and the unexpected early arrival of the vaccines, Lake County needed a scalable, flexible solution that could be used both internally by the department and externally by medical institutions and citizens alike.  

LCHD needed technology that would provide them with a 360-degree view of their community members to enable timely vaccinations. What’s more, they needed a 360 degree view of the vaccine to understand where inventory was and how many doses they could expect to receive in order to distribute them. And, they needed a tool that was easy to use and had as few technology touch points as possible for LCHD employees, healthcare workers and community members. 

“It brought joy to all of our hearts when we got the vaccine earlier than we expected—but it also crunched our timeline a bit,” said McMillan-Wilhoit. “That’s why we landed on Salesforce — to build a flexible solution that could scale with us as the vaccine distribution scaled, while providing a way to effectively give our communities access with ease. Something that anyone can use without needing to know a lot about technology in order to use it.”

Something that anyone can use without needing to know a lot about technology in order to use it.

Jefferson McMillan-Wilhoit, Director of Health Informatics and Technology, LCHD

Moving at the speed of a pandemic

LCHD needed all of these things, and they needed them quickly. They had planned on vaccines arriving in January, with operations kicking off in February, not December. And they needed a partner to help them build it. After evaluating six different consulting companies, they decided that Slalom was the right partner for the job.

“We were looking for a partner who wouldn’t just implement the software and design the application. We wanted an organization that would listen to our policies and procedures, and to the decisions we had already made — like leveraging the Salesforce platform,” said McMillan-Wilhoit. “Out of all the partners that we evaluated, they were the ones who looked at our strategic plan and thought bigger than just a vaccine management solution, but also at allowing us to expand and continue to use the platform they built for us.”

Slalom is a Salesforce consulting partner with extensive expertise across the entire Salesforce Customer 360 Platform — and according to Jessica Cash, Director of Customer Engagement at Slalom, the company understands that Salesforce, at its core, is a customer success platform.

“Salesforce goes beyond being a customer relationship management system, so we approach our work being solution focused but not solution exclusive,” said Cash. “This means that our work starts with understanding who we’re impacting and ensuring that the solution design will benefit anyone touching the solution — for Lake County that includes residents, providers and staff. We bring ingenuity married with experience and expertise to solution builds, even when given an incredibly short window to meet the urgency of customer asks.”

Our work starts with understanding who we’re impacting and ensuring that the solution design will benefit anyone touching the solution — for Lake County that includes residents, providers and staff.

Jessica Cash, Director of Customer Engagement at Slalom

Another differentiating factor for Slalom is that even though they have global scale and reach, they have local roots. Lake County is home to 700,000 residents, and with Slalom’s largest office outside of its headquarters located nearby in Chicago, many of its employees call Lake County home. While Slalom talent from around the world worked on the project, some of the consultants quite literally built the solution for their families and friends. 

The resulting Salesforce-based platform, called the Lake County AllVax Portal, enabled more than 40,000 vaccine signups in the first 24 hours of launch and 200,000 within the first couple of weeks. The progress they made on their vaccination journey put Lake County in a position to serve as an example to the rest of the country.

“The depth of impact we were able to have being involved in this project is something that we’re proud of as the Slalom Chicago team, and certainly as residents of Lake County at large,” said Cash. “A consultant on the project recently told me that her dad is a one-man advocate for the platform — he is telling everyone he knows to go sign up for their vaccination on the AllVax Portal.”

Empowering everyone with vaccine orchestration

For Lake County itself, this rollout isn’t just about vaccine management. It’s about vaccine orchestration. 

The County needs to be able to receive, distribute, track and manage the vaccine supply carefully to adhere to government standards. The AllVax Portal automatically shares crucial data with state and federal systems — like the percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered or adverse event reports — with state and federal systems through integration with Mulesoft. This reduces the amount of manual data entry work that would have been par for the course with legacy systems. 

AllVax also leverages advanced data analytics tools powered by Tableau, which Lake County can use to determine inventory status, and identify trends and catalysts to inform resource planning as vaccination phases evolve.

Meanwhile, workers need to be able to administer the vaccine, and they need access to the right data on the right patient at the right time. In addition, they need the ability to record that data to take stock of adverse effects of the vaccine in order to ensure that patients receive the best care possible. These capabilities are powered by the AllVax Portal via Salesforce Health Cloud

Daniel Burkhardt, a senior principal at Slalom, played the role of enterprise solution owner for the LCHD project. Part of his job includes monitoring how the solutions they build are used in the real world, so he went onsite to a healthcare facility in Lake County to observe an AllVax training for the nursing staff. Due to hospitals being understaffed in the pandemic’s wake, many of these nurses are volunteers who came out of retirement in order to help their communities.

“I saw nurses literally applauding as they were going through the training because it was so easy to pick up and start using compared to other systems that they had used in the past,” said Burkhardt. “Fifteen minutes of training was enough for folks to walk out the door and start using this to create electronic health records and link vaccine lot data to individuals, tracking this process holistically.”

I saw nurses literally applauding as they were going through the training because it was so easy to pick up and start using compared to other systems that they had used in the past.

Daniel Burkhardt, Senior Principal, Slalom

Helping citizens sign up with ease, move forward into a safer future

Not only is AllVax easy for vaccine administrators to use — it’s easy for citizens to use, including those from populations that are most affected by the virus, like Lake County’s elderly community. Residents enter the AllVax Portal via Salesforce Experience Cloud, and once they’re deemed eligible to receive the vaccine according to state guidelines, they are notified to log back into AllVax by email or messaging alerts powered by Marketing Cloud to schedule their appointment.

“I just saw somebody in the AllVax Portal yesterday who is 82 years old and was able to get registered without a problem, didn’t need to call us or anything,” said McMillan-Wilhoit. “I felt so much pride because that’s what we wanted. That’s how we built the solution.”

I just saw somebody in the AllVax Portal yesterday who is 82 years old and was able to get registered without a problem, didn’t need to call us or anything. I felt so much pride because that’s what we wanted. That’s how we built the solution.

Jefferson McMillan-Wilhoit, Director of Health Informatics and Technology, LCHD

The AllVax Portal ultimately has delivered a level of hope for residents of Lake County that didn’t exist in the earlier phases of the pandemic. Today, only frontline workers and people over the age of 65 qualify for the vaccine in Lake County due to limited supply. But when vaccines become available to the general population, the county knows it has a system it can rely on to keep its citizens safe—no matter what community they’re part of. 

For more on how Vaccine Cloud is helping communities around the world, check out this press release.