The Issue: Although data around vaccine distribution in America is sorely limited and scattered, one pattern is becoming increasingly clear – those who have been affected by COVID-19 the most are getting vaccinated the least. Based on early data from 26 states, Black and Hispanic Americans are getting vaccinated at approximately half and one-third the rate of white Americans respectively, even after controlling for the demographic makeup of health care workers. Meanwhile, Black, Indigenous, and (other) people of color (“BIPOC”) are contracting COVID-19 at nearly twice the rate, being hospitalized for COVID-19 at nearly four times the rate, and dying from COVID-19 at nearly three times the rate as white Americans.
Disparities in vaccine uptake stem from both lower confidence in and less access to the COVID-19 vaccination. First, many individuals in diverse communities are less confident than white Americans in the vaccine, with 43% of Black adults and 37% of Hispanic adults stating they would “wait and see” how it is working for others before getting it. Second, vaccine distribution is commonly done in ways that are less accessible to BIPOC Americans in both obvious ways (e.g., distribution sites are placed farther from BIPOC communities), and more subtle ways (e.g., accessing the vaccine requires an individual to have resources—time, transportation, computer and Internet access, knowledge of how to get vaccinated, etc.—that are not equitably distributed by race and ethnicity).
10 Recommendations: Health care CEOs are in a unique position to increase confidence in, and accessibility to, the COVID-19 vaccine. Fixing the deep inequities embedded in the health care system is beyond the scope of this guide, but CEOs can take the following 10 steps today to increase vaccine confidence and accessibility in the diverse communities they serve:
PART I: Creating an Action Plan
Step 1: Empower a Task Force to Provide Oversight
Step 2: Coordinate with Community Organizations and Local
Step 3: Conduct a Rapid Root Cause Diagnostic
PART II: Increasing Confidence
Step 4: Identify and Train Trusted Messengers
Step 5: Be Transparent About Vaccine, Allocation, and Distribution
Step 6: Create Personal Messaging
Step 7: Use Evidence-Based Messaging
Step 8: Communicate Through Multiple Touchpoints Consistently
We want this guide to be a working document that updates with the fast-changing realities health care leaders are facing in battling this public health crisis. Please write any recommendations you may in the comments section below and we may incorporate it into our next draft.
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