RESOLVE Joins New Coalition to Increase Community Involvement in COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign

As we face the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic to date, we can find some encouragement in the approval of two highly efficacious COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. While this is the good news we have been waiting for since the very early days of the pandemic, we cannot lose sight of the fact that a large portion of the population must be willing and able to receive the vaccine in order to realize the individual, community, national, and global benefits of these vaccines.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the nation’s leading infectious disease scientist, recently indicated that close to 85% of the population would need to be vaccinated in order to provide vaccine-induced herd immunity in the U.S. Last month, a Pew Research Center poll revealed that only 60% percent of American adults would “definitely” (29%) or “probably” (31%) choose to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if it was currently available to them. 

Vaccine hesitancy is especially notable among communities of color, which are disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and where the pandemic continues to exacerbate systemic issues driving longstanding health inequities. While vaccination can help mitigate the transmission and burden of COVID-19, enduring biases and barriers can impact access to and acceptance of the vaccine.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Department of Anthropology at Texas State University have recently launched CommuniVax, a new research coalition dedicated to strengthening local and national COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the U.S. by positioning communities of color at the center of an equitable vaccination campaign. The coalition is seeking input from Black, Indigenous, and Latino/Latinx individuals regarding how best to promote awareness of, access to, and acceptability of COVID-19 vaccines in their respective communities with the ultimate goal of developing lasting local governance systems that better enable underserved groups to exercise collective agency over their own health and wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The CommuniVax coalition involves five local research teams, a national expert working group, and a network of national associations representing vaccination system operators and beneficiaries. I am proud to be representing RESOLVE on the coalition’s national working group. (To learn more about CommuniVax, visit here.)

Public trust is paramount to the success of the national COVID-19 vaccine program, and robust, thoughtful, and transparent community engagement efforts are a critical step in building trust. The CommuniVax project is an important vehicle for enhancing dialogue, building trust, and strengthening the vaccine program – locally and nationally. It also has the power to improve the health and wellbeing of underserved communities beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. This gives me a sense of hope that brighter days are ahead in 2021.

Beth Weaver
December 23. 2020

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