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COVID-19 Healthcare Inequity: Lessons Learned from Annual Influenza Vaccination Rates to Mitigate COVID-19 Vaccine Disparities

Authors
  • Bazan, Isabel S.1
  • Akgün, Kathleen M.1, 2
  • 1 Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care, & Sleep Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA
  • 2 Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT, USA
Type
Published Article
Journal
The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine
Publisher
YJBM
Publication Date
Sep 30, 2021
Volume
94
Issue
3
Pages
509–515
Identifiers
PMID: 34602888
PMCID: PMC8461587
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Perspectives
License
Unknown

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has infected 33 million Americans and resulted in more than 600,000 deaths as of late Spring 2021. Black, Indigenous, and Latinx (BIL) people are disproportionately infected, hospitalized, and dying. Effective vaccines were rapidly developed and have been widely available in the United States since their initial rollout in late 2020-early 2021 but vaccination rates in BIL communities have remained low compared with non-BIL communities. Limited access to the vaccine, lack of customized information, and mistrust of the medical system, all contribute to vaccine hesitancy and low vaccination rates. Regrettably, COVID-19 is not the only vaccine-preventable illness with racial/ethnic inequities. Similar inequities are seen with the seasonal influenza vaccine. We review the racial/ethnic health disparities in COVID-19 illness and vaccination rates and what inequities contribute to these disparities. We use evidence from the seasonal influenza vaccination efforts to inform potential strategies to attenuate these inequities. The development of effective and sustainable strategies to improve vaccination rates and reduce factors that result in health inequities is essential in managing current and future pandemics and promoting improved health for all communities.

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