Season 2 | Episode 5 – Vaccines & Health Equity
On this episode of the podcast, Terry and Bob discuss health equity in conjunction with Black History Month. The pandemic has exposed racial disparities in healthcare, including the relative lack of vaccinations among people of color. Black people only make up roughly 5.4 percent of total Covid-19 vaccinations nationwide despite having disproportionately worse Covid outcomes.
Bob interviews Dennis Johnson, Managing Director for Strategy and Evaluation at Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. Dennis explains how the best way to increase vaccination rates among minority and underserved communities is with the help of mobile medical vans. By transporting vaccines to these people, we can start to overcome stubborn systemic roadblocks preventing a higher vaccination uptake.
Dennis explains how lack of access to care for this population is not necessarily due to price. The biggest reason is the lack of access to a medical home, meaning a place where healthcare is delivered and records are kept. Minorities’ point of access to the healthcare system is too often the emergency room. He highlights the steps taken to digitize medical records and reduce asthma risks among this population to minimize trips to the emergency room.
Mobile programs have helped overcome transportation difficulties that are widespread in rural and even inner-city communities. These programs and digital alternatives like telehealth have helped overcome the pervasive shortage of healthcare professionals in these areas. To increase vaccinations among these populations, public health officials can follow this successful playbook. Vaccine education is also a key component to increasing vaccine uptake.
Kate Pecora interviews Megan-Claire Chase, who discusses her experiences with racial healthcare disparities as a breast cancer survivor. She explains that despite having symptoms, she couldn’t get a cancer diagnosis and her concerns were dismissed as stress. When Megs finally got diagnosed and treated, she sought help from the cancer support community, which questioned her diagnosis and experience. She explains how she was not treated as a cancer patient but as a Black cancer patient and how upsetting this is. Doctors and health professionals often do not take her pain complaints seriously.
Megs argues that to solve racial health disparities, the healthcare community must start listening to Black people’s experiences. She asks people to please share the health stories of their Black friends and acquaintances on social media, which can publicize the overt and covert racism in the medical community to a broader audience.