New Report: Carrying Equity in COVID-19 Vaccination Forward: Guidance Informed by Communities of Color
July 14, 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, released a new report that outlines findings from local research within Black and Hispanic/Latino communities in Alabama, California, Idaho, Maryland, and Virginia and provides specific guidance to government officials 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.
“During the pandemic, low-income persons and communities of color have experienced significant physical, financial, and psychological harms at a disproportionate rate,” write the authors of the report, Carrying Equity in COVID-19 Vaccination Forward: Guidance Informed by Communities of Color. “In the coming months, the continued emergence and spread of new SARS-CoV-2 virus variants and the resumption of routine activities across the country amplify the risks that COVID-19 poses to these groups. Lessons from the vaccine rollout to date can help provide direction moving forward.”
Key findings of the local research report are:
- Naming vaccine hesitancy as “the problem” obscures a more complex set of realities
- Assuming communities of color are homogenous is a critical error
- Hyperlocal responses to the pandemic result in better health outcomes
In response, the recommendations are:
- Humanize delivery and communication strategies for COVID-19 vaccines
- Anchor COVID-19 vaccination for hard-hit areas in a holistic recovery process
- Develop a national immunization program to protect people throughout the life course
- Rebuild the public health infrastructure, properly staffing it for community engagement
- Stabilize the community health system as the backbone for equity and resilience
First convened in November 2020, the Working Group on Equity in COVID-19 Vaccination is co-chaired by Monica Schoch-Spana, PhD, from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and Emily K. Brunson, MPH, PhD, from the Department of Anthropology at Texas State University. It is an advisory body comprised of community advocates, public health experts, and social scientists. With funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and additional funding from The Rockefeller Foundation, the working group steers CommuniVax, a coalition of rapid research teams that works with BIPOC communities and public health implementers to improve local-level vaccine delivery and communication strategies.