Health News Roundup

How the pandemic highlighted a legacy of inequity in CT, and more in this week’s roundup

Health equity in the wake of COVID: How a pandemic highlighted a legacy of inequity in our state
Connecticut Public, June 17
As the nation emerges from the paralysis of the coronavirus, Connecticut is left with both the legacy of the virus and the legacies of inequity it has again brought to the fore. From access to protective equipment to testing to vaccines, the common thread is access to health care itself, and the well-documented challenges that communities of color face when it comes to getting and maintaining care. This documentary explores what true health equity means, the history of a lack of access to care itself, the work that hospitals and community health centers are doing to engage hard-to-reach communities, and how a pandemic brought into focus the disparate health outcomes that are prevalent in our state.

Anatomy of a health conundrum: The racial gap in vaccinations
Akilah Johnson and Dan Keating, The Washington Post, June 27
The United States is awash in coronavirus vaccines, with free beer, plane tickets and million-dollar prizes dangled as inducements to persuade the reluctant to get a shot. Despite that, a racial divide persists in the nation’s vaccination campaign, with federal figures showing counties with higher percentages of Black residents having some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. Experts say now is the time to double down on efforts to reach the most vulnerable. “What often happens is we get close to the finish line, and we kind of stop,” said Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “The queues for getting vaccinated diminish, so they stop having some of the evening hours. They stop having weekend hours. Those are the services that get pulled back first.”

In colorectal cancer hot spots, young men are dying at higher rates
Nicholas St. Fleur, STAT, June 22
here are 232 counties in the mainland U.S. where men aged 49 and under are at unusually high risk of dying from colorectal cancer, according to a study published last year in the American Journal of Cancer Research. The researchers also found that compared with white men, Black men in these hot spots who have colorectal cancer are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stages of the disease and less likely to survive it. Since the 1990s, even as colorectal cancer rates have declined for people 50 and older, they have more than doubled among American adults under 50. By 2030, predicts a study published in April, colorectal cancer will be the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in people aged 20 to 49. The reason behind the rise remains a mystery.

Desperate for COVID care, undocumented immigrants resort to unproven drugs 
Amy Maxmen, The New York Times, June 20
In low-income immigrant communities, where COVID-19 rates have been high but access to health care is low, some have turned to unregulated drugs or other unproven remedies promoted by doctors and companies on social media and sold at flea markets. Some purchase these unregulated drugs because mainstream medicine is too expensive or is inaccessible because of language or cultural barriers. About 20 percent of Hispanic people in the United States lack health insurance, and the proportion is far higher among undocumented immigrants.

Rush to close vaccination gap for Hispanics
Rachel Roubein and Dan Goldberg, Politico, June 27
Troves of misinformation, language barriers and fears around immigration enforcement are hampering efforts to vaccinate Hispanic communities against COVID-19, challenging the Biden administration’s push to crush the coronavirus as a dangerous new variant quickly spreads. Much of the nationwide attention on the slowing vaccination campaign has focused on hard-line resisters, predominately in Republican-led states in the South and Mountain West. But Hispanic communities, even as they’re among the most eager to receive the shots, are still facing barriers to vaccination that could leave them vulnerable to the virus this summer.