Reserving a portion of COVID vaccines for hard-hit communities, and promoting equity in public health

Lisa Vallejo, a nurse for the Simi Valley Unified School District, gives substitute teacher Caroline Sheller a COVID-19 vaccine at the district’s two-day vaccine clinic for teachers and staff on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by JUAN CARLO/THE STAR via Imagn Content Services, LLC

As of this week, teachers are eligible to be vaccinated. The state is setting aside 10% of its supply for teachers. And now 40% will be set aside for people living in low-income communities that have been hit hard by the pandemic. That’s a big change from the previous plan. Governor Newsom says the change is intended to make up for the inequities in the vaccine rollout so far.

Harald Schmidt, Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, identifies ways to promote equity in public health: “One, by increasing the numbers of vaccines that we make available to people in more disadvantaged areas. Secondly, by also placing dispensing sites in areas that are easy for people to reach. Thirdly … work with community groups to identify … places where you can get vaccinated that are trusted, because it's no good having a lot more vaccines available, having them in the right places, when people don't trust those locations.”

What don't people trust when it comes to where they get their vaccines?

“Many African American communities have completely, understandably, rational concerns about interactions with the health care system, because of decades of research abuses, or being treated second best in the health care system,” says Schmidt.

He says working with faith leaders or having mobile units at barbershops are ways to tap into trusted networks.

Credits

Guest:

  • Harald Schmidt - Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania