Central District Health Secures Funding to Study Hispanic Vaccine Equity on Grand Island | Grand Island Local News

Does Grand Island have a vaccine equity problem?

That’s what the Central District Health Department hopes to learn.

CDHD received $150,000 from the National Association of County and City Health Departments to study the needs of minority communities in CDHD’s tri-county coverage area.

“We are pleased to have this NACCHO funding as it gives us the opportunity to explore the reasons for low immunization rates in subgroups in our community,” said CDHD Director Teresa Anderson. “Once we have a better understanding, we can take steps to remove barriers so that COVID-19 vaccination rates improve in our district.”

The grant, which emphasizes vaccine equity, was awarded to CDHD because of low immunization rates among Hispanics and Latinos in Hall County, CDHD’s accreditation coordinator explained. , Liza Thalken.

“Qualifying depends on county vaccination rates for adults, and then you have to have a certain percentage of your vaccination that is racial or ethnic minorities, and you also have to meet certain qualifications for the Social Vulnerability Index, and the Hall County is qualified,” Thalken said. .

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The goal of the grant is to increase immunization rates among the Hispanic and Latino adult population.

A disparity exists, Thalken said.

“Historically, we saw that there could be hesitation in our Hispanic and Latino population, and that population, when we looked at the data that we have access to, there was a lower rate of vaccination and a refusal rate. higher than our non-Hispanic population,” she said.

It is unclear why there is such a disparity.

“In general, there will always be some level of resistance in different segments of our populations and for different reasons,” Thalken said. “Attitudes vary a lot from person to person, so we also try to look and see if it varies at all within subgroups of a minority group, just trying to get a little more information.”

She added, “We’ve had great success reaching our Hispanic population, but we know we can do more.”

The grant funds, awarded to just 24 local health departments nationwide, are contingent on meeting CDHD’s monthly targets for “deliverables” (research-based products) and will be disbursed in the fall.

For the grant, CDHD will first conduct focus groups to learn about the various reasons for this vaccine hesitancy and local attitudes towards vaccination.

CDHD will then use these results to improve outreach efforts, including organizing more specific educational campaigns and strengthening local partnerships.

“We try to gather a lot of information so that we can share it with NACCHO, and eventually it goes to the (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention),” Thalken said.

This research also considers where there are gaps in the CDHD data.

“We’ve found that throughout the pandemic, in particular, we’re missing information just on people’s demographics,” Thalken said. “We don’t have super detailed data, and that’s part of what we’re trying to address through our research.”

Not only vaccination against COVID-19 is considered, but also the flu.

“That’s another rate that we know we can improve on,” Thalken said. “We’re doing the research this spring and the work this summer, so hopefully we can implement some of our findings by flu season.”

CDHD had 11 positive cases of COVID-19 in its last recorded seven-day period and a positivity rate of around 11%, with no recent deaths.

Despite this, CDHD hopes to further reduce these numbers and also prevent any increases in COVID-19 and influenza in the fall.

CDHD vaccination campaigns have been successful since the start of the pandemic and in previous influenza seasons.

The challenge is to further improve awareness, Thalken explained.

“Our flu vaccination rates increased significantly last year compared to the previous year. I think it’s just that we finally have time to focus more on ‘We’re doing it right, where are the gaps and how can we build on the momentum we have?’ she stated.

The grant opportunity is exciting for CDHD, Thalken said.

“I’m excited to see the focus on research and making sure the efforts we’re doing are well-founded so that we have a lot more information that makes us feel like we’re going to be successful. “, she said. said. “It’s just a huge learning opportunity.”

brandon.summers@theindependent.com

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