As summer moves along, the U.S. is marking a pivotal point in the pandemic. A majority of Americans — nearly 55% — now have received one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 48% are fully vaccinated.
Our nation has made significant progress in getting people vaccinated, which has led to fewer COVID-19 cases and deaths. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 cases have been decreasing steadily since mid-January, even dipping below 10,000 for a handful of days in June. These are incredible statistics to see after a year-and-a-half of devastatingly large numbers.
At the same time, these statistics are sobering. Every death is a loved one — a spouse, parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle, sibling, cousin or beloved friend. There’s more to do. The AHA continues to work on a number of resources to support the field so we can keep those vaccination numbers climbing and COVID-19 cases on the decline.
If you haven’t recently checked AHA’s webpage with COVID-19 Vaccine Communications Resources, I encourage you to do so. You’ll find a variety of toolkits, social media graphics, public service announcements and more — much of it customized for specific audiences — that your teams can use.
You’ll also find inspiring VacciNATION case studies and stories highlighting best practices and strategies from hospitals and health systems as they vaccinate patients and people in their communities. A couple of great examples:
- Allegheny Health Network has been working to ensure equitable vaccine distribution to people in Western Pennsylvania. AHN teams are reaching marginalized populations or patients who rank high on the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index through specialized, invitation-only and walk-in clinics. AHN used data from its information technology system and affiliated health plan to identify people with limited access, and also has partnered with local churches, organizations and leaders to set up vaccination events.
- Atrium Health, based in Charlotte, N.C., developed a multipronged approach with mass vaccination events, mobile vaccination teams, community vaccination clinics and more. The health system has used two roving units that travel to select urban and rural neighborhoods using a geographic information system-mapping tool that identifies COVID-19 hot spots in the city. In addition to vaccinating people in the community, these mobile teams can screen for health conditions, medication issues and social needs.
It’s still a precarious time in this pandemic as we watch the highly contagious delta variant begin to take hold and COVID-19 cases in the U.S. increase in certain communities. Hospitals and health systems have been trusted public health leaders during this ongoing emergency, so let’s continue the good work and get more people in our communities vaccinated. For hospitals dedicated to healing and hope, it’s the right thing to do for our country.
Rod Hochman, M.D.