Ohio State’s flu vaccination initiative addresses racial inequalities in well being care
“Vaccinations are our best defense against influenza, and we wanted to make sure all the communities we serve are equally protected,” said Dr. Aaron Clark, family doctor at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and medical director of the Ohio State Health Responsible Nursing Organization.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black and Hispanic people have higher rates of serious illness, hospitalizations, and deaths from the flu and significantly lower rates of vaccination against the flu compared to the white population. During the 2019-2020 flu season, 53% of whites received the flu shot, compared with 41% of blacks and 38% of Hispanic Americans.
“If there is a way to reduce this inequality by providing improved access to vaccines and addressing community concerns, then this is absolutely the right thing to do,” said Clark.
To this end, Ohio State Wexner Medical Center increased the number of flu vaccines purchased in August 2020 and created new clinical procedures to offer flu vaccines in its emergency rooms, retail pharmacies, primary care and specialty clinics, and inpatient units. A team of nurses called patients in destination zip codes to promote the flu vaccination and address patient concerns. In addition, the health system hosted drive-through flu flashes and pop-up flu vaccination clinics with community partners, and deployed a mobile health unit to deliver flu shots to underserved communities.
As a result of these efforts, the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center emergency rooms delivered ten times more flu shots to non-white patients by March 2021 than during the 2019-2020 flu season. Next, the academic medical center will apply the knowledge gained to COVID-19 vaccination and preventive measures such as diabetes checks and cancer screenings.
“I think what made our initiative successful at launch was the fact that a person of trust stood right next to the patient and answered their questions honestly and openly, with no judgments or preconceived notions about whether they were hesitant or not.” “Said Clark. “If you don’t actively look for these disparities and then find very transparent ways to address them, they will always be there. So this is a step to improve that. “
Media contact: Serena Smith, Wexner Medical Center Media Relations, [email protected], 614-293-3737
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