UW Health prioritizes racial equity in vaccinations of 65+

The hospital says the first round of invitations to schedule appointments were for Black, Latinx, and Native American patients.
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 11:49 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2021 at 5:46 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - In the vaccination rollout at UW Health, the first round of invitations to schedule appointments were sent to Black, Latinx, and Native American patients.

UW Health Chief Diversity Officer Shiva Bidar-Sielaf says the decision was data driven as communities of color are disproportionately high risk.

“If the data says that these are the highest impacted communities, we need to prioritize them,” said Bidar-Sielaf.

According to a release from UW-Health, Black and Latinx individuals are 2.8 times more likely than white people to die from COVID-19 in the United States. Native Americans are 2.6 times more likely to die than white people from the virus.

Bidar-Sielaf says the conversations to prioritize these communities started before the vaccine rollout last fall.

“It’s really putting into action all the conversation about racial equity,” she said. “It’s something that is talked about often but how do we actually make it happen?”

On Thursday, UW Health released new data showcasing the success of the vaccine racial equity. From its medically homed patients ages 65 and older, the following have received at least one dose of the vaccine:

  • 50% of Native American patients
  • 44% of Latinx patients
  • 39% of Black patients
  • 35% of white patients

In addition to the prioritization of scheduling invites, UW Health is hiring vaccine patient educators who will work over the next year within the Black, Latinx and Hmong communities to proactively contact UW Health primary care patients, providing information and support to navigate access to the vaccine as more people become eligible.

“Their role is going to be reaching out directly, one-on-one to our patients who are primary care home patients of UW Health in those communities,” said Bidar-Sielaf.

UW Health continues to work to vaccinate eligible individuals, currently prioritizing those age 65 and older, as vaccine supply permits.

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