Did you know that April is National Minority Health Month? National Minority Health Month originated when Booker T. Washington, who was born into slavery but rose to become an American educator, author, and orator, as well as an adviser to presidents of the United States, launched a public health campaign that became known as National Negro Health Week in 1915. At the time, even basic healthcare was often inaccessible, sanitation was inadequate, nutrition was insufficient, and housing was substandard for many; Washington addressed these issues by calling for public and private displays of health and hygiene in the community. National Minority Health Month has become a time for raising awareness about health issues that directly affect racial and ethnic minority populations across the US, and to encourage actions to address these issues through health education, early detection of disease and other medical conditions, and control of disease complications.
The theme for the 2021 National Minority Health Month is “Vaccine Ready”, in the wake of a year of pandemic due to the novel coronavirus and resultant disease of COVID-19. The Office of Minority Health (OMH) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) chose to focus on the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable racial and ethnic minority and American Indian and Alaska Native communities in the US, and to highlight the need for these communities to be vaccinated.
Aside from the standard continued practice of recommended COVID-19 safety measures such as social distancing, wearing masks in public spaces, and handwashing, National Minority Health Month is a time of encouragement to get the facts about COVID-19 vaccines and to share accurate vaccine information, and participate in clinical trials if possible. The focus is to encourage people to get vaccinated as more vaccines become available and to take steps in the meantime to stay as protected as possible.
“There are many questions about how we effectively diagnose, treat, and prevent COVID-19, which continues to disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minority communities, Tribal communities, and other diverse groups. Many Black and Hispanic Americans have been getting vaccinated against COVID-19 at lower rates than white Americans, but are more likely to contract COVID-19, be hospitalized, and die from the disease.”
“Vaccine Ready: Addressing COVID-19 Health Disparities among Racial and Ethnic Minority Communities”
The “Vaccine Ready” campaign of National Minority Health Month this year is important for helping vulnerable communities continue to practice recommended COVID-19 safety measures, get the facts about the COVID-19 vaccines, share accurate vaccine information in the community, participate in clinical trials if possible, and get vaccinated as soon as possible. The campaign is extremely valuable for increasing vaccine confidence by dispelling myths and misconceptions about COVID-19 vaccines, to help prevent further spread of the virus and help to bring an end to the pandemic.
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