Cone Health Allocates 35% of Vaccine to Minorities
The move is an effort to improve access to the vaccine to groups that aren’t getting it.
More than 40% of people in the areas where Cone Health offers services are people of color. However, nearly 78% of the COVID-19 vaccines given by Cone Health have gone to white people. To address this, Cone Health pledges that at least 35% of its vaccine allotment will go to minorities.
“Vaccinations are the key to ending this terrible pandemic,” says Cone Health CEO Terry Akin. “But how can we quickly end it by leaving so many people in our community behind? Whites are taking the vaccine in big numbers, others aren’t. This move is part of an effort to close that gap.”
Research finds that access, trust and the newness of the vaccine are major reasons for vaccine hesitancy. Cone Health plans to address all three.
The allocation set aside will be distributed in community vaccination clinics set up in areas where people live who may find it more difficult to get to a mass vaccination site due to transportation problems or an inability to leave work without forgoing pay for example. Vaccination clinics will be held in churches and community centers with registration handled by churches and other organizations. These clinics will be placed in both urban and rural areas.
Blacks in particular have a mistrust of the COVID-19 vaccine due to historic mistreatment by government and the medial system. Cone Health has begun a series of virtual townhalls bringing together Black health care professionals, pastors and faith leaders, as well as community and business leaders to discuss how the vaccine was developed and tested and why it is safe. Efforts are also being made to ensure access and to overcome language and other barriers for Hispanics and other minority community members.
According to the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, 31% of people are waiting on others to be vaccinated before they will be comfortable rolling up their sleeves. As more people see others in their communities step up to be vaccinated and not get sick from the vaccine (a common misconception), the expectation is that they will be more inclined to do the same.
“There is comfort seeing people who look like you, stepping up when offered the chance to get this highly effective vaccine that has been demonstrated to be very safe,” says Cone Health Chief Health Equity Officer Dr. Alvin Powell. “With these actions, Cone Health is laying the groundwork for people in every community we serve to get vaccinated. Together, we will move on from this pandemic.”
The state has set also set aside vaccine for minority communities and has promised more to organizations that improve low vaccination rates.