Communities predominantly composed of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) have lagged behind in coronavirus vaccination rates after soaring ahead in COVID-19 mortality rates since the early days of the pandemic. A lack of access to the vaccine and mistrust both play a part in the disparity.
Newly released Denver Public Health data have found that vaccination rates are higher in wealthier Denver metro area neighborhoods than in low-income neighborhoods where more people of color live. Statewide disparities in coronavirus vaccination rates are clear in new race and ethnicity data on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) COVID-19 information dashboard. The early numbers—with 78% of vaccinated individuals represented—show that statewide, nearly 68% of those vaccinated are white.
“We have to do something different, especially in the health care setting,” said Oswaldo Grenardo, MD, the chief diversity and inclusion officer with Centura Health. At Centura, that has included diversity councils at multiple Centura facilities stressing the importance of the vaccine, community outreach groups like Promotores and Promotoras de Salud, and “real people” like Rusaka.
“We are working with community influencers. People tend to trust those who live in the neighborhood and look like them,” said Megan Mahncke, senior vice president of external communications for SCL Health. Small pop-up clinics will be appearing in underserved neighborhoods and communities across the state. Mobile hospital vans will be deployed to neighborhoods, churches, schools and other community gathering places for vaccine events.
The State of Colorado, along with a large web of partner groups that include major hospital systems, is making a new, concerted effort to address both the mistrust and access factors.
Read more at ColoradoTrust.org.