On Wednesday, April 7, state health officials pointed out that North Carolina’s work to reach “underserved and historically marginalized populations and deliver equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines” exhibits excellent practices and that those practices can now act as a model approach for the country. 

That’s according to a just-released report from the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices.

One huge focus in the vaccination effort in both Guilford County and at the state level has been on making certain that minority and disenfranchised people have access to the vaccines.  The state, county and even federal government have been doing that in Guilford County.

 Other counties in North Carolina are making vaccine equity a high priority as well. 

In Guilford County, staff works with predominately black churches and community groups to get in contact with those who might not otherwise know of the vaccination options. 

Now, of course, workers in that same vaccination network are doing what they can to assure people the vaccine is safe.

Guilford County is even taking the charge into the communities.   The county is purchasing three new vehicles to create a mobile vaccination program

The new report, called “Prioritizing Equity in COVID-19 Vaccinations: Promising Practices from States to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Disparities,” highlights some of the effective and promising actions that states can take to promote more equitable vaccination distribution in communities that might otherwise get overlooked.

North Carolina’s objective in the vaccine rollout was to be “fast and fair,” and those who conducted the report believe the state is doing a good job in that regard – a job that other states could learn a thing or two from.

NC Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy K. Cohen stated in an April 7 press release that North Carolina is a strong leader in this regard.

“Our commitment to equitable vaccine distribution is one piece of our continued work to address and dismantle systemic and structural barriers to health equity,” Cohen said. “By embedding equity into all aspects of our COVID-19 response and maximizing the speed and efficiency of vaccine distribution, we’ve consistently been a national leader in equitably getting shots into arms.”

In particular, the state was selected for:

  • “Increasing vaccine supply allotments for counties with larger populations from historically marginalized communities, particularly when the state was focused on vaccinating people 65 and older.”
  • “Prioritizing community-based vaccination approaches such as funding community health workers and enabling community-based organizations to host mass vaccine events, which builds trust in vaccines and increases access to them within historically marginalized communities.”
  • “Removing systematic barriers to vaccine access, such as transportation. North Carolina allocated $2.5 million to local transit authorities to offset public transportation costs for North Carolinians to get to and from their vaccine appointments.”

North Carolina was even nationally recognized for its vaccine efforts before the Duke-Margolis Center report came out.  The CDC ranked North Carolina in the top 10 for “equitable vaccine coverage,” and Bloomberg News had reported on North Carolina’s effective “data-driven approach to reducing disparities” in vaccination rates.