Welcome to the fourth edition of Health Equity Quarterly, our quarterly newsletter that highlights the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health’s (CMS OMH) activities, messages from leadership, and some of the great work the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is doing to address health care disparities.
While the nation continues to deal with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that you and your family get vaccinated. Children ages 5-11 recently became eligible for vaccination and it is critical that we encourage parents to get their children vaccinated, answer questions about the vaccine and how it will affect this age group, and provide resources that will further inform parents so they feel safe getting their child vaccinated.
In addition to getting your children vaccinated, we also continue to stress the importance of getting your COVID-19 vaccine booster, if eligible. Boosters have been authorized for all three of the vaccines that are currently available – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson – with the requirements for getting your booster varying according to which vaccine you initially received. Research suggests the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines wanes over time, which means that the booster is essential to protect yourself and your family as we continued to deal with this pandemic.
Throughout 2021, CMS OMH held multiple webinars related to the COVID-19 vaccine, with the most recent being our Pediatric Vaccine Partner Webinar, which was co-hosted with the Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign. The webinar highlighted newly released recommendations on COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11, federal COVID-19 resources, and more. Panelists detailed their ongoing work to further emphasize the importance of vaccines, discussed the availability of vaccines, and provided messaging that viewers could use to reach different populations and stakeholders. View the recording and slides from the webinar. We also encourage you to view the information from our other webinars, the COVID-19 Vaccine Webinar for Rural Communities (recording and slides) and the Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence Webinar (recording, slides, and supplemental handout).
CMS OMH strives to ensure that all of the populations that we serve have access to quality health care, including vaccinations and other preventive services. These webinars offered us a chance to work with various partner organizations and individual providers to ensure that the concerns of the various populations that we serve are heard as we continue to shape our strategies.
Finally, this February, CMS OMH is proud to celebrate Black History Month as well as American Heart Month. Black communities are often disproportionately affected by heart conditions and related risk factors. By examining these two monthly observances together, CMS OMH has an opportunity to advance health equity for all Americans by highlighting resources and initiatives that can help those disproportionately impacted by heart disease. Visit the CMS OMH Health Observances website for a list of resources to share during February and beyond.
– Dr. LaShawn McIver, Director, CMS OMH