As Nevada continues vaccinating residents against COVID-19 with a goal of ending the pandemic, Immunize Nevada and the Nevada Minority Health and Equity Coalition (NMHEC) have partnered to form the Nevada Vaccine Equity Collaborative.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak released a video message in early February advocating for equity as a cornerstone of all vaccination efforts throughout the state. This new statewide collaboration answers that call, with its goal of keeping all Nevadans informed about the COVID-19 vaccine and providing the state and health districts with recommendations to ensure equitable access to vaccines.
“Everyone has an equal right to health,” said Immunize Nevada Executive Director Heidi Parker. “During this pandemic and beyond, we need to very intentionally work together to identify and break down the barriers preventing some populations in Nevada from having an equivalent chance at getting their COVID vaccine, once it’s their turn. Our goal is to level the playing field and make resources to acquire vaccines equal for all Nevadans.”
Access means different things to different groups.
“We need to make a concerted effort to understand the needs of our diverse community,” said NMHEC Vice Chair for Southern Nevada Dr. Erika Marquez. “This partnership brings a diverse set of stakeholders to the table to ensure everyone is heard.”
The partnership is comprised of public, private, state, and community partners together to:
● Ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine, which includes socially vulnerable populations such as those without vehicles, people with disabilities, older adults, and those with limited English proficiency, among others;
● Develop a comprehensive communication plan to meet the cultural and linguistic needs of communities highly impacted by COVID-19;
● Make optimal use of community partnerships, resources, and opportunities.
“Equity and fairness requires an intentional effort to reach every community and not create a situation where those who have been disproportionately impacted by this virus are left behind – including the elderly and our frontline workers,” Gov. Sisolak said in his video message. “As we continue to fight for more doses from the federal government, it’s critical that the Nevada Vaccine Playbook is followed to support equitable vaccine distribution.”
As an additional measure in response to the governor’s directive, both Immunize Nevada and NMHEC have added staff positions to their teams dedicated to this initiative.
Members of the Nevada Vaccine Equity Collaborative will include state legislators, community members representing different ethnicities and demographics, healthcare providers, faith-based leaders, public and private representatives.
“This is one vital step toward equity, as this pandemic has disproportionately impacted vulnerable communities that have experienced challenges with access to healthcare and vaccine information,” said Dr. Marquez.
Information on COVID vaccines can be found at www.NVCovidFighter.org or by calling the statewide hotline at 1-800-401-0946.
Targeted community resources are also available through the OneCommunity campaign led by the Nevada Minority Health and Equity Coalition: nmhec.org/onecommunity.