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Allina Health addresses disparities with COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Staff at Allina Health are working to make sure available vaccines are getting to people in communities that may be disproportionately affected by the virus.

MINNEAPOLIS — As of Saturday, 13.7% of Minnesota's population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and doctors and staff at Allina Health, are working to make sure available vaccines are getting to people in communities that may be disproportionately affected by the virus.

"We are seeing disparities for a variety of reasons,” says Vivian Anugwom, with Allina Health.

Vivian Anugwom is a health equity manager for Allina Health. She says the hospital group is leaning toward data to address disparities and working with directly with community leaders to address concerns. 

"There is opportunity to improve access to the vaccine and to show up in the communities where people live and work," she said

Recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows a pattern of Black and Hispanic people receiving smaller shares of vaccinations compared to their shares of cases and deaths and compared to their shares of the total population.

Most recently in Philadelphia, the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium put on a 24-hour vaccination clinic prioritizing zip codes with a population disproportionately affected by COVID 19 and low vaccination rates. 

"I think that is a good example of the need, there's hesitancy but there's also folks who want the vaccine,” she said. “So I think the goal of targeting zip codes that have some of the greatest social needs is a good approach."

While Anugwom says Allina Health is working daily to address the disparities, she says the goal is to make sure there's equal access to the vaccine. 

“The goal is to get everyone vaccinated, but we cannot ignore equity, based solely on speed," she said.

Allina Health says they are continuing to track their own data on who's getting vaccinated - at times rearranging locations of clinics as a response to that data, while also reaching out to patients directly.