Communities of color have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, having disproportionately high case, hospitalization and death rates across the U.S. and in Colorado. This disparate impact on communities of color is in large part due to systemic health inequities fueled by past and ongoing racism. Racism in the medical field has led to decreased trust in vaccines, and more hesitancy. To make matters worse, the anti-vaccine movement has recently targeted communities of color, specifically, with misinformation about vaccines in order to sow increased doubt and dissuade them from getting vaccinated.
By Ellie Dullea
Healthcare workers play an essential role as trusted vaccine advocates in the community. In a 2017 survey of 400+ Colorado parents, medical doctors were found to be the most influential factor in parents’ plan for their children’s immunizations. Similarly, immunization providers will play a vital role in increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates by easing patient concerns about the vaccine’s safety and efficacy and offering strong recommendations for vaccination.
By Briana Sprague, Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Coordinator at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
When I found out I was pregnant, my dream of having a child finally came true. There was nothing I wanted more in this life than to be a mother. I had known as long as I could remember that I was destined to become a mom. The birth of my son, Jackson, was singularly the best moment of my life. I knew instantly that I loved him more than anything and that protecting him was my new life mission. The first three days home from the hospital were probably the hardest days of my life but also the most rewarding. Each day that I get to watch my son grow tops the day before.
One thing I learned about myself after becoming pregnant is that I am scared of everything. While I’m not afraid to admit that, I am afraid of not being able to protect Jackson from everything that could potentially harm him. But that just isn’t possible.
By Elizabeth Abbott
Just over 30 years ago, at 15 months of age, I was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis as a result of Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) infection. The vaccine that protects against Hib had not yet been introduced. At that time, Hib was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis among children under five years of age in the U.S. Each year, about 20,000 children under five years got severe Hib disease, and about 1,000 died. As many as 1 out of 5 children survivors of Hib meningitis end up with brain damage or become deaf.
Since vaccine introduction in the late 1980s, the number of cases of invasive Hib disease has decreased by more than 99 percent. By 2012, less than 50 U.S. cases of Hib disease occurred each year in children under five, and most cases we see today are the result of parents choosing not to vaccinate. While some parents may believe their child is not at risk of rare Hib infection, the bacteria still exists and can cause severe harm through the diseases it causes.
In honor of World Meningitis Day (April 24) and National Infant Immunization Week (April 18-25), I sat down with my beautiful mother to remember the “traumatic experience” she faced as her child overcame this life-threatening illness. Read more