Blacks and Latinos have significantly lower rates of vaccination against the flu, according to federal data. During the 2019-20 flu season, 53% of Whites received a shot compared with 41% of Blacks and 38% of Hispanics.
Earlier this year, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center launched an initiative to address this problem, setting a target of 45.1% above national benchmarks. At deadline, they were at 38.8%.
Dr. Aaron Clark, medical director of the Ohio State Health Accountable Care Organization, has some advice on how to do the same at your organization.
How to get started?
- Target an area of disparity and set reasonable goals.
- Form a cross-disciplinary (emergency department, specialty, primary care and clinics) work group and engage internal units to redesign workflows to facilitate flu shots.
- Task nurses to call homes in target ZIP codes to inform Black and Hispanic populations of the benefits of getting the flu shot.
- Develop culturally sensitive communication to engage patients in a more meaningful way in communities of color.
What skill sets do you need to make this happen?
We included physicians, nurses, pharmacists, communications/marketing, community outreach, supply chain, IT analytics and hospital administration all in a core work group leading and driving this initiative, with senior executive sponorship.
What kind of impact do you see this having on short- and long-term goals?
The goal is to bake into our processes, workflows and initiatives an ongoing awareness of the existence and importance of health disparities. The influenza immunization project was just a start.