This policy brief focuses on how historic maltreatment of communities of color and tribal nations, along with current day structural racism, have created distrust of government and healthcare in many communities of color and tribal communities. It provides six key recommendations on policy actions to help build trust in and access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Building trust in COVID-19 vaccination and other public health interventions is fundamental to the work of public health and efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic. We can build trust by combating misinformation, supporting trusted messengers and networks, improving our trustworthiness, and deepening relationships that engender trust over time. Building trust between public health and communities facilitates acceptance of public health interventions and can cultivate an equitable COVID-19 response now and conditions for well-being in the future.
Community Assessment and Engagement
Community assessment is a systematic process by which a community’s health status and related factors are examined; it is used to identify problems and assets in a community. Through community engagement, stakeholders work together to address health-related issues and promote well-being with the goal of improving health outcomes. These two processes work hand-in-hand to facilitate health improvements. COVID-19 has changed the assessment landscape in many ways–introducing new challenges for engagement, upending pre-pandemic implementation plans, and necessitating new and updated data to understand emerging health impacts and needs.
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Vaccination is one of public health’s most successful tools for preventing and controlling the spread of infectious diseases and, increasingly, cancers and chronic diseases too. Immunization is an effective and cost-efficient strategy that prevents sickness and death in all age groups and saves billions of dollars each year. The COVID-19 epidemic and recent outbreaks of measles and other preventable infectious diseases underscore the importance of vaccines and sustaining high vaccination rates. Work is needed to ensure that people of all ages receive a complete series of the vaccines they need.