Milestones :: Perspectives :: Research
Carrying Equity in COVID-19 Vaccination Forward: Guidance Informed by Communities of Color
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
Authors: Brunson EK, Schoch-Spana M, Carnes M, Hosangadi D, Long R, Ravi S, Taylor M, Trotochaud M, Veenema TG, on behalf of the CommuniVax Coalition
Date posted: July 14, 2021 :: 71 pages
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Seven months into the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the United States, nearly 50% of the American population has been vaccinated. While this is a monumental accomplishment, there is still much work to do.
In the coming months, the country will face a series of vaccination challenges including serving groups with persistently low vaccine uptake (due to, for example, low/no access, vaccine hesitancy, or a combination of factors), expanding COVID-19 vaccination to children (particularly those whose parents may be less willing to vaccinate their children than to get vaccinated themselves), and orchestrating a potential booster dose campaign (with its own hesitancy issues). As the COVID-19 vaccination campaign continues, lessons from the vaccine rollout to date can help provide direction moving forward.
One challenge that deserves closer attention and more refined solutions is the campaign’s limited success at delivering vaccines to low-income persons and communities of color. During the pandemic, these populations have experienced significant physical, financial, and psychological harms at a disproportionate rate. The continued emergence and spread of new SARS-CoV-2 virus variants and the resumption of routine social, commercial, and educational activities across the country amplify the risks that COVID-19 poses to these groups.
This report provides specific guidance on adapting COVID-19 vaccination efforts to achieve greater vaccine coverage in underserved populations and, through this, to develop sustainable, locally appropriate mechanisms to advance equity in health.
In the first half of the report, we outline findings from local, ethnographic research conducted within Black and Hispanic/Latino communities in Alabama, California, Idaho, Maryland, and Virginia. Since January, local research teams have been assessing community infrastructure; listening to community members, public health officials, and government leaders; and coordinating engagement activities to understand how best to promote awareness of, access to, and acceptability of COVID-19 vaccines. In the second half of this report, we present the policy and practice implications of the local research. The Working Group on Equity in COVID-19 Vaccination—an advisory body of community advocates, public health experts, and social scientists—developed the recommendations, eliciting local team feedback.