Spectrum News 1: Ohio's Equity Push Addresses Dismal Minority Vaccine Rates
In the state of Ohio, there is a racial disparity regarding COVID-19 vaccination rates. According to the state's COVID-19 vaccination dashboard, 11.6 percent of white Ohioans have been vaccinated, compared to 5.1 percent of Black Ohioans and 3.8 percent of Latinx Ohioans. These low vaccination numbers for minorities are concerning, because people in these demographics remain very vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.
Laura Espy-Bell, MD, an emergency medicine physician with Mid-Ohio Emergency Services at OhioHealth was talking with fellow emergency department physician, Maureen Joyner, MD, about this issue recently.
“We started talking about how people of color were being disproportionately affected by this,” Dr. Espy-Bell told Spectrum News 1 reporter Pete Grieve, “If we're being honest, it's definitely something that keeps me up at night, and so we started talking about what we could do personally to affect change.”
They pulled a group of Black physicians from Columbus together virtually to produce a video called "Our Community vs. COVID-19." The three-minute video helps to educate the Black community about the myths and truths regarding the vaccine - from people who have been vaccinated and look like them.
“We wanted to take a grassroots approach where we talked about what the impact COVID has had on our community. We wanted to address myths and address the fact that people of color are skeptical to get the vaccine, and we wanted to express that we understand why they're skeptical,” Dr. Espy-Bell told Spectrum News 1.
The video was even played during one of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's news conferences, along with the announcement of a series of virtual town halls to educate minority communities about the vaccine.
“The fact that the state, our local health department, large healthcare organizations, and the federal government are starting to pay closer attention to this disparity and starting to make changes that address this disparity is a win for not only people of color, but a win for all of us,” Dr. Espy-Bell told Spectrum News 1.
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