By: Kiara Tanta-Quidgeon, Policy and Advocacy Intern
Governor Lamont recently announced that Connecticut will continue the age-based approach to COVID-19 vaccine eligibility with a focus on equity. Connecticut COVID-19 data shows us that Black and Latino individuals are dying at younger ages. While lowering the age for eligibility more quickly will mean that more people of color can sign up to be vaccinated, to address the dramatic disparities in vaccine administration, Health Equity Solutions’ Executive Director, Tekisha Dwan Everette, PhD says, "We may need to think about other factors in combination with age. Geography, race, ethnicity, age, comorbidities. All of these things are other factors that we need to be thinking about.”
She adds, “From the beginning, my position has been that we need to lower the [qualifying] age and look at individuals who have comorbid conditions as a way to bring equity into the conversation.” People of color in Connecticut are at higher risk of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death due to a higher likelihood of working in “essential worker” roles, living in more densely populated homes and neighborhoods, and having underlying conditions. These factors are all rooted in structural racism and the housing, employment, education, and other disparities it causes. “We are talking about people & access to the vaccine through the lens of utility or job function, & that is problematic because it reinforces our status quo & the structural racism that has led people to the positions they are working in or not working in,” Dr. Everette said.
In early February, Health Equity Solutions began engaging in COVID-19 vaccine community outreach and education in partnership with the State of Connecticut. “It was incredibly important to me that Health Equity Solutions not only identify the challenges to health equity but that we become a part of the solution,” Dr. Everette said following the announcement. “We wish there was not a pandemic at all, but we are ready, willing, and able to make sure that people have accurate information to make a timely decision that is best for themselves and their family.”
According to a survey of registered voters from November 2020 to February 2021, 31% of the surveyed Black population said they were unsure or would not take the COVID vaccine. However, knowing someone who's been vaccinated is correlated with vaccine enthusiasm, suggesting that progress on equity will beget progress on hesitancy—which will benefit us all by getting us closer to herd immunity.
Health Equity Solutions continues to be dedicated to ensuring that all people, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity have equitable access to health and to assert that race, gender, geography, and risk should be considered in defining priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination.
If your faith-based or education-focused organization is interested in hosting an outreach event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. To register to attend a COVID 19 vaccine webinar, please click here.