New Local Research Reports Released on Improving COVID-19 Vaccination Equity for Black Communities in Virginia
November 3, 2021 – The CommuniVax Coalition, which is led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Department of Anthropology at Texas State University, today released 2 new local reports that share findings from rapid research about COVID-19 vaccination within African American/Black communities in Virginia.
Improving Health Equity and Vaccination on Virginia’s Eastern Shore highlights findings from low-income Eastern Shore of Virginia communities. To strengthen public health efforts, address social determinants, and prepare the region for the next health crisis, the report recommends a suite of action, including that:
- Local officials convene political leaders in a cross-sector council of stakeholders—including African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino leaders and community organizations who can take a whole-of-community, whole-of-government approach for managing the pandemic’s recovery phase.
- Community-based organizations and faith-based organizations, working in partnership with public agencies, hospitals and health systems, social service providers, should align around a “whole person” model of recovery to meet the self-identified needs of the community, many of which were captured in this report, and to multiply the benefit of each encounter.
- State and local governments should commit to core funding of public health and ensure a steady budget with funding levels to provide needed infrastructure, ensure effective emergency response capabilities, and effectively address the consistent chronic health challenges affecting members of the community, especially those with disparate health outcomes.
Addressing Hampton Roads Community Mistrust in the Wake of the Pandemic highlights findings from low-income Hampton Roads communities. A key finding is that pervasive mistrust in the pandemic response seems to be the most important factor affecting vaccination.The report notes that increasing vaccination in these communities will likely require health systems and public health professionals to become more trustworthy by committing to address other community concerns. Recommendations for how health systems and public health professionals can become more trustworthy,include:
- Local jurisdictions need to work with institutions that have already successfully partnered with vulnerable communities.
- Address the digital divide and ensure that low-income communities are not left behind by the “new normal.”
- Integrate mental health first aid training into a coordinated engagement strategy designed to create a network of community mental health advocates who can respond to signs of mental illness and substance use during the course of their normal day-to-day interactions with other community members.
Both reports are produced by a local team of researchers from the Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University,Hampton University, and Virginia Commonwealth University.