press Release

CORE Expands COVID-19 Vaccination Operations and Frontline Relief to Brazil

May, 05 2021


The crisis relief nonprofit will begin operating the first of four mass vaccinations sites on May 3 in Rio de Janeiro, with plans for expanded testing CORE entered into an agreement with The International Relations and Cooperation Department of the Secretariat of Government and Public Integrity (SEGOVI) to support Sistema Único de Saúde.


LOS ANGELES – May 5, 2021CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) today announced the international expansion of their COVID-19 vaccination operations to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Replicating its successful, longstanding model of partnering with local governance for relief operations, CORE entered into an agreement with Brazil’s International Relations and Cooperation Department of the Secretariat of Government and Public Integrity (SEGOVI) to expand and support the city’s municipal vaccination campaign. Starting May 3, CORE will begin operating the first of four mass vaccination sites throughout the region, and the organization will be engaging local Brazilian staff, including healthcare professionals, to work at these sites, in partnership with Viva Rio, a community organization who, like CORE, has worked in Haiti since the earthquake in 2010. Direct Relief, one of CORE’s most trusted partners in disasters, is also joining the partnership, providing materials and funding to support the running of the vaccine and testing sites.

The municipality of Rio has identified several community sites, such as two samba schools, the Olympic Stadium, and a Music Hall, due to their proximity and the locations’ cultural significance as the heart and soul of underserved favelas.

CORE has been providing critical frontline COVID-19 relief in the U.S. since March 2020 and in Haiti, with a focus on serving the most vulnerable and resource-limited communities. With their expertise in operating mass vaccination sites in addition to mobile units, CORE’s work in Rio will serve as a model for the organization to help other Brazilian cities, in support of SUS (Sistema Único de Saúde, or Unified Health System). In addition to operating vaccination sites, CORE is also planning to operate testing centers to expand detection efforts and protect the community.

“Brazil is ground zero in the southern hemisphere for COVID-19. Supporting the incredible work of the Mayor’s office is a privilege, and CORE is proud to stand alongside its brothers and sisters in Rio during a time of great need,” said CORE’s CEO and co-founder Ann Lee. “We are eager to launch our operations in Rio in unison with our partners at the City of Rio, the Ministry of Health, Direct Relief, and Viva Rio to help protect the local community and stop the damaging spread of COVID-19.”

“It’s a privilege for Direct Relief to join with and support CORE’s response to the urgent request from Brazilian health authorities facing severe threats from COVID,” said Direct Relief president and CEO Thomas Tighe. “Brazil faces a situation much like the one California faced several weeks ago when it had the unwelcome and frightening distinction of being the global hotspot for COVID. CORE’s get-it-done approach and successful community-mobilization efforts coordinated closely with public health authorities for testing and then vaccinations were critically important to turning the tide, which is the same goal here.”

Invited by the International Relations and Cooperation Department, CORE conducted technical visits throughout the city from April 13-20, to assess the scope of the partnership in combating COVID-19 in Rio. Lee and the CORE team met with the Municipal Secretary of Health, Daniel Soranz, and the team of the Emergency Operations Center – known as COE COVID-19 – who presented the data of the pandemic in the city, the City of Rio’s safety guidelines and the municipal vaccination plan.

“We need to prepare the city for the next stages of vaccination against COVID-19, as we reach younger age groups. When we receive doses from the Ministry of Health, it is essential that we have more logistics to vaccinate the population and expand testing. In this sense, the partnership with an NGO expert in this theme, willing to invest in Rio de Janeiro, strengthening the SUS, is a great achievement,” said secretary Marcelo Calero.


CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) is a crisis relief nonprofit organization co-founded by Sean Penn and Ann Lee that is dedicated to saving lives and strengthening communities affected by or vulnerable to crisis. Within hours of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Penn mobilized a powerful network to take immediate action. More than 11 years later, CORE continues to lead sustainable programs focused on four pillars: emergency relief, disaster preparedness, environmental resiliency, and community building. The organization has expanded beyond Haiti to support communities in The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the United States, and Latin America. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, CORE has been operating free testing sites across the U.S. alongside local partners, providing essential resources and contact tracing services as well as part of its integrated approach to combat the pandemic. In 2021, CORE is working with its partners in the U.S. and internationally to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, and has published a manual to encourage equity-focused community-based vaccination operations.

More information: www.coreresponse.org/covid-19 and follow CORE on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.