Motivating our communities to vaccinate together

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Escondida copper asset in Chile embarked on a plan to motivate the local community to ‘vaccinate together’.  

With COVID-19 vaccinations becoming available in 2021, significant efforts were made to facilitate access for our workers and contractors. However, the local Antofagasta community were facing significant barriers due to limited access to a few, very small, poorly staffed vaccination clinics, with long queues and many hours of waiting. 

To help increase vaccination rates in the region, we worked in collaboration with local authorities, key stakeholders and local providers to develop the ‘Let’s go together’ plan. 

‘Let's go together’ was a comprehensive plan to support the local community and improve health and economic outcomes by providing food, safety equipment, water, transportation and sanitisation. Significantly, it also facilitated the installation of a large, modern, accessible and safe vaccination centre in the region. 

The vaccination centre - El Vacunatorio de Escondida - was located in the central city, accessible by public transport and open for long hours to attract as many people as possible. Special attention was given to people with a disability, the elderly and pregnant women. 

It was spacious and well-ventilated, with eight service stations, a large pre-service room and a post-service room. The centre was designed in consultation with BHP’s Health, Safety and Environment team. A special area for children was also set up to provide a more pleasant experience. 

Specialist local providers were also involved in managing operations and delivering health care in accordance with the standards required by the Municipality of Antofagasta, the regional government, and the Antofagasta Regional Hospital. A coordinated work network was created with the Seremi de Salud (regional health agency) as a focal point in charge of the vaccination process. 

Professional medical staff, operational support and support staff were on hand to welcome people and provide the vaccinations.

Over a period of nine months (April – December 2021), the vaccination centre: 

  • administered 169,806 vaccines, representing 18 per cent of the total number of vaccines administered in the Antofagasta region
  • administered an average of 450 doses daily, reaching a peak in November of 1,414 doses.

    ‘Let’s go together’ represented a unique opportunity to work together with our local community, local and regional authorities to deliver a critical health resource at an unprecedented time and generate social value for the local region.