A strategic plan to bring COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of blacks and other minorities in Cincinnati and Hamilton Counties is underway. And it’s starting to deliver results, partly through Delivery of vaccines in familiar surroundings – churches and the city’s health clinics.
The lack of an even distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to black populations was evident early on in the distribution of vaccinations in the US and locally. Fewer blacks were vaccinated than their share in the population from the start. The topic sparked discussion among leading health officials in the area, who have met in a just strategy group with more than 20 community partners in Hamilton County since April 2020.
“Ever since vaccines began, there has been concern about a scarcity environment where people with funds have access,” said Kate Schroder, regional vaccination coordinator for the Health Collaborative, the Cincinnati area’s health systems trade group. We make sure we are proactive for equitable access. “
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The partnership includes public health leaders in counties and cities, the Health Collaborative, which represents the main medical systems in the area, and some elected officials. The partners want to lower vaccination barriers for black residents, align resources and increase the trust of the underserved.
To determine where the greatest need for vaccines was, the group asked Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to use mapping to identify the most vulnerable communities – those living below the poverty line and those living in minorities.
Then Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus sent a letter to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine On February 10, to seek support for the health departments’s strategic plan to provide additional vaccines. “We respectfully request an additional 2,000 doses per week to target the drastic inequality,” the letter said. Later, on March 3rd, Cram sent; eu another letter asking DeWine to remove age groups as a priority for who will receive the vaccine and when at higher risk of dying from COVID-19 in younger years.
The Ohio Department of Health responded to the first letter and sent an additional 2,000 doses to the area to aid justice efforts. Since then, a further 2,000 to 2,500 additional cans have been sent.
The combination of additional vaccines and the detailed distribution plan is showing results, Schroder said.
In Hamilton County, 12.67% of black residents are vaccinated in Hamilton County as of Monday. The Ohio Department of Health noted in its weekly conference call with local health departments on Wednesday that the county’s rate of reaching the black population was the second highest in the state among the 10 top performing counties.
The rate has risen from 11% of black residents among those vaccinated on February 9, the day before the close of the share plan.
Cincinnati Department of Health records also show an increase in vaccinated black residents. On February 9, before the share plan was introduced, 22% of all vaccinated residents were black. Latest percentages show that 40% of those who were vaccinated were black.
One of the keys to getting the job done is reaching out to people who are typically medically cared for by the Cincinnati Health Department’s state-qualified health clinics, said Dominic Hopson, deputy city health commissioner.
To this end, the city opened the six clinics as vaccine providers. These are the same locations that roughly 40,000 people in Cincinnati, or nearly one in eight city dwellers, receive medical care and wellness checkups. This means the clinics have their electronic records – one way to reach patients. About 60% of the clinic patients are black and another 14% are Latinos.
The clinics “are uniquely positioned in the city in underserved neighborhoods,” Hopson said of the clinics in Avondale, Lower Price Hill, Madisonville, Millvale, Northside and Over-the-Rhine.
In addition to the city clinics, other clinics will also receive a share of the new vaccines in the suburbs. Among them are a Lincoln Heights and a Mount Healthy Clinic. TO DAMAGE
The plan includes several other strategies to attract people who might otherwise not be vaccinated either.
“We have commissioned community partners and grassroots organizations to identify those entitled, but have not yet registered,” said Schroder.
Through the involvement of community partners including the Urban League and the local nonprofit First Ladies for Health, the plan provides information and vaccination clinics through trusted community members, officials said.
The first ones sponsored by First Ladies for Health Vaccination Clinic in New Prospect Church took place in Roselawn on February 10, before the strategic plan was fully implemented. Since then, the organization’s efforts have been part of the larger plan.
According to Schroder, some Cincinnati churches are also helping identify unvaccinated members so that United Way – another partner – can contact them and schedule vaccination appointments. The United Way is involved in setting dates for specific populations, including those who do not have access to the internet.
The role of health systems includes reserving 20% of their vaccination schedules for the underserved populations, as the plan shows.
Progress is not perfect, but Schroder said she expected vaccine distribution will reflect black and other minorities in the communities when the news breaks out and more people are drawn in through outreach.
“It takes deliberate efforts to make progress,” said Schroder. “We still have a way to go.”