Health leaders prioritize medical inequities during vaccine distribution
The data has shown that Black and brown communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
According to the CDC, a recent study found that people from racial and ethnic minority groups were more likely to have increased COVID-19 disease severity upon admission at the hospital compared with non-Hispanic White people. Another study found that in selected states and cities with data on COVID-19 deaths by race and ethnicity, 34% of deaths were among non-Hispanic Black people, though this group accounts for only 12% of the total U.S. population.
“The impact of COVID-19 has only deepened the health care inequities faced by the Hispanic community,” says Dr. Julio Arnau-Gonzalez, family medicine physician at Advocate Medical Group in Chicago.
In Chicago, Hispanics comprise over 80,000 or about 35% of all COVID cases with about 34% mortality/death rate. And in Milwaukee County, Hispanics comprise over 21,000 or roughly 23% of all COVID cases with about 13% mortality/death rate.
With these staggering statistics and the COVID-19 vaccine as our ticket out of the pandemic, Advocate Aurora Health Black and Hispanic physicians and leaders have made it their personal mission to share their experiences with getting the vaccine, hoping to encourage others to get informed and step up to get their vaccine when their time comes.
“There’s a long history of bias in medicine in America, of the medical establishment subjecting minorities to exploitation and experimentation and so among some people, there is a deep-rooted mistrust,” says Dr. Jacqueline Ivey-Brown, primary care physician at Advocate Medical Group. “We have made it a top priority at Advocate Aurora Health to engage in conversation, acknowledge this history, educate people about this vaccine’s development and address some of the myths that are circulating on social media.
But it’s important too that vaccine providers structure programs that are fair and equitable and have the processes in place to be effective.”
Watch these videos below to hear experiences from physicians and leaders and also why they are encouraging Black and brown communities to get their COVID-19 vaccine:
“I believe that getting the coronavirus vaccine is so important because this pandemic and this virus has affected the Black and brown communities exponentially more than any other one. And it’s not because we are more susceptible, it’s because we are the essential workers. We are the frontline, the police officers, the teachers, we run restaurants, we take care of the older populations in nursing homes and our own homes, this puts us in contact with so many people and that increases our risk.” Dr. Melanie Gordon, internal medicine hospitalist at Advocate Christ Medical Center, urges all to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s their turn. “We do these jobs to take care of our families and we want to take care of our community. Therefore, we need to be protected.”
“As a frontline physician, I have seen the damage that COVID-19 has done on my patients. I have felt this personally in my own personal life, losing family members.” Dr. Oyinkansola Okubanjo, Emergency Medicine Physician with Advocate Medical Group in Oak Lawn, shares why she chose to get the COVID-19 vaccine:
“I chose to be vaccinated because in April of 2020, I lost a beautiful friend to this virus. She was my age, a woman of color, a beautiful and bright spirit in this world.” Sharain Horn, VP of Community Well at Advocate Aurora Health, shares this heartfelt message on why she got the COVID-19 vaccine:
“Our Black and brown communities are the ones being affected the most by this virus. I recommend for all to educate themselves about the vaccine. It’s our only defense against the virus and our only way to get back to some normalcy,” shares Dr. Jeremy Daigle, pediatrician with Advocate Children’s Medical Group.
Dr. Jose Elizondo, family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group, also shared his message about getting the COVID-19 vaccine in Spanish. Además nos compartió por qué se puso la vacuna: “Tome la oportunidad que me dieron de vacunarme porque veo como una esperanza para poder salir de esta pandemia. Es muy importante proteger a mi familia estando vacunado y también me protege a mí y a mis pacientes.”
About the Author
Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.