The blog this week puts the spotlight on National Minority Health Month, and it couldn’t be timelier. Before I get into the details, I want to offer a little background. It’s evident that the mere fact that there is a minority health month, and an Office of Minority Health (OMH), created in 1985, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, indicates that there has been and remains a disparity in the treatment of minorities within our healthcare system. This fact is confirmed by the mission statement of OMH, “The Office of Minority Health is dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities.”. The facts show that minorities have not received the same level of care within the U.S.
The reasons for this disparity in treatment are many and varied — they can be financial, level of education, housing, the lack of adequate insurance, biological differences, and discrimination. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many of these disparities to the forefront and, hopefully, will hasten the resolution of these disparities.
The OMH has worked unceasingly to ensure that minorities receive the same care as the rest of America. They provide grants, create programs, sponsor research, and establish guidelines, all toward eliminating disparities in care.
National Minority Health Month is especially important during this critical vaccination phase of our battle with COVID-19. It has been shown that some minorities have been more reluctant to get vaccinated than the general population. The OMH offers information about how you can ensure you are #VaccineReady when the time comes.
- Understand how the COVID-19 vaccines work.
- Learn more about what to expect after getting the vaccine.
- Check with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about side effects.
- Use VaccineFinder to find out where you can get vaccinated.
- If you have questions about receiving the vaccine at a specific location, please contact that location. Vaccine availability is subject to change and appointments are required at most locations. Follow instructions for each provider listed on VaccineFinder Exit Disclaimer.
- Get the vaccine when it is your turn.
I know this is good information for those of us who have already decided to get vaccinated. For those of you, especially minorities, who are still undecided I offer a few items of advice.
- Do your own research – Get your information from trusted sources. There are two videos that might help you understand more about the vaccine or give you links to obtain more information. Those videos are here and here.
- Talk to someone you trust – Ask them why they got vaccinated and what their experience was, both during and after they were vaccinated.
- Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider – They are the ones that will know what is best for you.
- As shown below, minorities were included in the clinical trials.
- Consider the success so far – over 51 million Americans, about 15%, have been vaccinated with minimal side effects.
- Consider your loved ones and your community – The more people who get vaccinated the quicker your community and loved ones will reach herd immunity and will be able to return to normal.
We are making great strides toward reaching our goal of vaccinating 70% of our population. We have increased the daily vaccinations to over 3 million and it looks like every state will open vaccinations to all age groups before May 1. I am looking forward to returning to some sense of normalcy by July.
The National Minority Health Month this year is concentrating on helping America’s minorities get vaccinated. It is critical that all Americans have the opportunity to be protected from this virus and to return to normal.