Health News Roundup

Key decisions that made New Mexico a leader in vaccine equity, and more in this week’s roundup

For immigrants, IDs prove to be a barrier to a dose of protection
Akilah Johnson, The Washington Post, April 10
The life-or-death race to get as many people vaccinated as possible started slowly but has accelerated as many of those crossing the finish line possess the wherewithal and inclination to navigate a mazelike system. As the nation nears the point where supply soon outpaces demand, the unvaccinated will increasingly be people who are reluctant or who are rebuffed by barriers blocking their way. The federal government says everyone has a right to the coronavirus vaccine regardless of immigration status. But each state’s registration process is different, and vaccination sites often make up their own rules — policies inflaming racial and ethnic divides in coronavirus vaccinations.

The unlikely state setting the U.S. vaccination pace 
Dan Goldberg, Politico, April 12
New Mexico in recent days became the state first to provide at least one dose to half of its adult population. It’s also among the top-performing states on equity. A few key decisions early in the vaccine rollout — like a single statewide appointment website, when slow and fragmented registration systems have stymied efforts elsewhere — help explain why New Mexico is ahead of the pack. Earlier in the vaccine rollout, when supply was scarce, the state’s appointment system only alerted residents when vaccines were available in their area. That cut down on people from affluent areas driving into low-income communities to get shots, a pattern that hampered equity efforts in several other states.

Racism is making us sick. How can equity in medicine help us heal?
Joey Peters, Sahan Journal, April 5
The George Floyd killing caused deep trauma for many people of color in Minnesota. The trial of former officer Derek Chauvin has revealed how witnesses to the event continue to suffer. In this panel discussion, two doctors and a medical researcher talk about how racism affects their patients’ health — and how racism in medicine leads to inadequate medical education and poor care.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky unveils initiative to address racism in health 
Alice Park, Time, April 8
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a new agency-wide initiative called Racism and Health, to refocus public health efforts on recognizing, acknowledging, and taking action on the multitude of ways race impacts people’s health. From historical mistreatment that’s led to ongoing hesitancy and fear of the medical establishment among certain racial and ethnic communities, to lack of access to good care, to lack of representation in research studies and among the ranks of health care workers, racism has long been ingrained in the U.S. health system. “There has been a lot of documenting the problem,” says Walensky. “I want to start thinking about…how we can intervene to solve the problem.”
Related: Racism is a serious threat to public health, CDC says. Look at police killings to see why, Andrea K. McDaniels, The Baltimore Sun, April 13