24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
Fax: (361)578-5500
Regular Hours: M-Fri 8am - 5pm
Every 3rd Thurs of the Month - Extended Hours Until 7 pm

Medical Disorders
Resources
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
Urinary Incontinence Surgery Won't Raise a Woman's Cancer RiskCOVID Vaccines Trigger Protective Immune Response in Nursing Home Residents: StudyCOVID Vaccines Might Not Protect Certain Cancer PatientsHad Facial Fillers? What You Need to Know About COVID VaccinesAntibody Cocktail May Curb Infection in Unvaccinated Who Are Exposed to COVID-19Scientists Find Clues to Why AstraZeneca's Vaccine May Cause ClotsYou've Got Fungi in Your Lungs, and That's OKNon-Emergency Surgeries Are Rebounding, But Backlogs RemainPandemic Has Put Many Clinical Trials on HoldSupply of J&J COVID Vaccine to Drop 86 Percent Next WeekStressed, Exhausted: Frontline Workers Faced Big Mental Strain in PandemicNIH Starts Trial Looking at Rare Allergic Reactions to COVID VaccinesNot Just Keyboards: Many Types of Workers Can Develop Carpal TunnelBlack Women Are Dying of COVID at Much Higher Rates Than White MenTwo Vaccines Show Effectiveness Against Emerging COVID VariantsWomen More Prone to Concussion's Long-Term Harms: StudyCOVID Cases Climb in the Midwest as British Variant Takes Hold in U.S.'Heart-in-a-Box' Can Be Lifesaving, Matching Up Distant Donors With PatientsNo Proof COVID Vaccines Can Trigger Guillain-Barré SyndromeFor People With PAD, Exercise Can Be Tough But RewardingPublic Lost Trust in CDC During COVID Crisis: Poll1 in 3 COVID Survivors Struggle With Mental Health Issues Months LaterA Few People With COVID Went a Crowded Bar: Here's What HappenedNearly 8 in 10 School, Child Care Staff Have Gotten at Least 1 Dose of COVID Vaccine: CDCModerna COVID Vaccine Offers Protection for at Least 6 Months: StudyStrain of COVID Care Has Many Health Professionals Looking for an ExitCOVID Shot Earlier in Pregnancy Better for Baby: StudyDoctors' Group Says Antibiotics Can Be Taken for Shorter PeriodsIf You've Had COVID, One Vaccine Jab Will Do: StudyAbout 40,000 U.S. Children Have Lost a Parent to COVID-19Study Refutes Theory That Blood Type Affects COVID RiskHow Willing Are Americans to Donate COVID Vaccines to Other Countries?Got Your COVID Vaccine? Don't Stop Being Cautious, Experts SayCOVID Drove 23% Spike in U.S. Deaths In 2020Faster-Spreading COVID Variant Expanding in United StatesWhen Will America's Kids Get Their COVID Vaccines?AHA News: Why You Should Pay Attention to InflammationMany Recovering COVID Patients Show Signs of Long-Term Organ DamageCOVID Fears Mean More Cancers Are Being Diagnosed at Later StagesSome Hospitalized COVID Patients Develop SeizuresCan Vaccinations Stop COVID Transmission? College Study Aims to Find OutCDC Confirms COVID as Third Leading Cause of Death in 2020Research Reveals How Aspirin Helps Prevent Colon CancerPfizer Says Its COVID Vaccine Is Very Effective in Kids as Young as 12AHA News: The Secret to Good Health Is No Secret. So Why Is It So Hard to Achieve?'Couch Potato' Lifestyles Cause Up to 8% of Global Deaths: StudyHave to Travel During Spring Break? Here's How to Stay SafeNew Coronavirus Can Also Infect Cells in the MouthBiden, Top Health Officials Warn of Risk of Another COVID SurgeAHA News: Black Young Adults Face Higher Stroke Risk Than Their White Peers
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Diabetes

Communities of Color Struggling to Get Vaccines to Those in Need

HealthDay News
by By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Feb 19th 2021

new article illustration

FRIDAY, Feb. 19, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- The greatest threat from COVID-19 has been for Black and Hispanic Americans, who are three times more likely to be hospitalized and about twice as likely to die from an infection with the novel coronavirus, compared with white people.

Now, street-level community groups are stepping in with innovative ways to overcome longstanding racial disparities in health care and help step up vaccinations for vulnerable groups.

These include call centers to help sign people up for vaccination, transportation to get folks to distant vaccination sites, and mobile clinics that will bring the vaccine into the communities that need it most.

"Before we had COVID-19, we've always had health disparity issues in our community. All it has done is compound that issue," Tasha Clark-Amar, CEO of the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging, said in a recent HD Live! interview.

New life expectancy projections released this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided fresh evidence of the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Black and Hispanic communities.

Average life expectancy decreased 2.7 years for Blacks and 1.9 for Hispanics between 2019 and the first half of 2020, according to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. That's compared to a life expectancy decline of 0.8 years, on average.

These numbers reflect the "chickens coming home to roost," in terms of health care inequities that have been left unaddressed for decades, Jill Ramirez, executive director for the Latino HealthCare Forum in Austin, Texas, said during the same HD Live! interview.

COVID-19 has spread more easily throughout minority communities because folks often are frontline essential workers holding jobs that expose them to infection, and they often live in crowded conditions where any virus brought home will easily pass through extended families, said Vickie Mays. She's a professor of health policy and director of the UCLA Center on Research, Education, Training and Strategic Communication on Minority Health Disparities.

People who test positive for COVID-19 typically aren't given options for living in quarantine away from their family to prevent further spread, Mays added during the HD Live! interview.

Minorities struggle to quarantine

When public health officials arrive, "they don't come with quarantine resources: They don't come with the hotel keys. They don't come with trailers," Mays said. And when someone in a crowded family home becomes infected with coronavirus, "you don't send a person back into the same environment," she said.

Minority groups also face care inequities when they show up to the hospital, Mays said, citing the recent, highly publicized death of Indianapolis physician Dr. Susan Moore.

Prior to her death, Moore posted a video to Facebook stating that she was not receiving proper medical care for her COVID-19 infection because she was Black. She described arguments with white doctors to get needed CT scans, pain medication and treatment with the antiviral drug remdesivir.

Moore was a "black physician that was begging to be treated with equity. She knew what the treatment should be," Mays said. "Those images are pretty powerful when they're out there."

Instances like this have heightened mistrust among ethnic groups, which has grown in recent years thanks to stepped-up immigration enforcement and police abuses that triggered the Black Lives Matter protests.

Ramirez pointed out that "for the last four years, a lot of immigrants had a target on their back. That did not create a good environment for our people to trust the government."

Structural racism further contributes to the dilemma of getting people vaccinated. These communities often are located in places where there are no hospitals, clinics or other health care services, which means people have to travel across town to get vaccinated, Clark-Amar and Ramirez said.

Worse, whatever small clinics that are there do not have the sort of ultracold refrigeration units needed to properly store the fragile COVID-19 vaccines currently available, Mays said.

"We have community clinics that were needing to buy these ultracold freezers. Right now, it's weeks to get them. Until you can meet the requirement, you can't have it. So, who had it first? Major academic medical centers and hospitals, because they had an infrastructure," Mays said.

Technology has set up another barrier to vaccination, since vaccination clinics often require online sign-up, Ramirez and Clark-Amar said.


Online sign-ups a hurdle

Many older adults "don't have the skills" to sign up online, Ramirez said. "They might not even have a computer," she added.

"Just the insistence that our elected officials and the people who set up the vaccine distribution for them to use technology as the first way to access vaccine, that in itself is a huge barrier," Ramirez said.

In Austin, the technology barrier is such that vaccination clinics that do get set up in minority communities are often overwhelmed by white people coming in from other areas hoping to get a shot, Ramirez said.

"Because the portal where people access is for everyone, we see that a lot of people from other areas of town that are more affluent are coming into our community and using the majority of the vaccine," Ramirez said. "When you look at the statistics, only about 9% of Latinos are getting the vaccine, 2.2% of African Americans, and the rest are white."

Many people also are reluctant to get vaccinated due to misinformation that has spread due to a lack of public health information targeted to Black and Hispanic communities, the experts said.

"There has been a lack of information regarding vaccines, their safety and why people should take it," Ramirez said. "In the absence of good information, we have a lot of misinformation taking root."

Faced with all this, community groups have taken matters into their own hands.

Clark-Amar's group set up a call center to help seniors get signed up for vaccination.

"We have care managers, social workers, on the phones that are filling out the online process for them, scheduling it for them, printing all the pre-consent forms, prefilling those," Clark-Amar said. "We have buses, our own transportation, so we go pick them up and make sure they get vaccinated, wherever it is."

Call centers, churches and ice cream trucks


By the end of February, the health authority in Austin is expected to open a multilingual call center, Ramirez said.

The community groups also are taking it upon themselves to spread the word about vaccine safety.

"While our seniors are waiting, we do phone calls, text messages and videos every day, just explaining to them here's why you should be vaccinated, here's why it's important to you," Clark-Amar said. "We focused on educating our seniors and beating back every myth and every misinformation they brought to us. We said, tell it to us and we'll tell you the reason why that's incorrect."

The groups also are coming up with innovative ways to bring COVID-19 vaccination into their communities.

For example, Clark-Amar's group is working with pharmacies to set up community vaccine clinics in which the activists do all the leg work and paperwork.

"All [medical staff] have to do is put needles in arms," Clark-Amar said.

Clark-Amar has also floated the idea of having vaccination clinics in neighborhood churches.

"The churches are the pillar of our community. We should take the vaccine to the church," Clark-Amar said. "Let the clinicians come to the church, and you'll be surprised how many people you can get in one day. There's churches on every other corner. We got to use them for Jesus and for vaccination."

Ramirez has another idea that would utilize a beloved neighborhood institution -- the ice cream truck.

"I thought, why don't we use an ice cream truck as a mobile place to keep the vaccine?" Ramirez said. "The children get ice cream and the adults get their shots. We're just thinking outside the box."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about COVID-19 racial and ethnic health disparities.

SOURCES: Tasha Clark-Amar, CEO, East Baton Rouge Council on Aging, Louisiana; Jill Ramirez, executive director, Latino HealthCare Forum, Austin, Texas; Vickie Mays, PhD, professor, health policy, and director, UCLA Center on Research, Education, Training and Strategic Communication on Minority Health Disparities, Los Angeles