April is National Minority Health Month, a time when the nation comes together to raise awareness about the health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minority communities. It is also crucial to address these disparities through education and increased health care access. This year’s theme from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health is #VaccineReady. Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, effecting change is more critical than ever.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color. Data and analysis of racial disparities in COVID-19 reveal social and structural inequities and show that these communities are:
- At increased risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19, due to higher rates of underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and hypertension.
- More likely to be uninsured and to lack a usual source of health care, which impedes access to COVID-19 testing and treatment services.
- More likely to work in service industries (such as restaurants, retail and hospitality) and to be at risk for loss of income during the pandemic.
- More likely to live in housing situations, such as multi-family or multi-unit dwellings, that make it difficult to social distance or self-isolate.
There remains mistrust of the U.S. health care system among minority communities, affecting perception of the trustworthiness of COVID-19 vaccines. This distrust is wholly justified, and it is something that we must all work together to fix. The vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective and are the most effective tool available to protect people from this virus. Everyone must come together and call on lawmakers to provide additional resources and to ensure that these communities have priority access to the vaccines.
By taking part in the vaccination effort, you are doing your part to protect yourself and your loved ones from this terrible virus and taking a giant leap toward returning to a more normal life. More importantly, the COVID-19 vaccine can help protect members of your community who are most susceptible to severe illness from the virus.
This National Minority Health Month, help spread awareness about the safety and efficiency of the COVID-19 vaccines and ensure that every member of your community is #VaccineReady. Visit the HHS Office of Minority Health website to find ways you can help spread awareness throughout the month.