Dr. Anne Marie Murphy, Executive Director of Equal Hope in Chicago, discusses the work her organization is doing as part of the Community COVID Coalition project to increase vaccination rates among some young adult populations; Mike Fraser, ASTHO’s...
Dr. Anne Marie Murphy, Executive Director of Equal Hope in Chicago, discusses the work her organization is doing as part of the Community COVID Coalition project to increase vaccination rates among some young adult populations; Mike Fraser, ASTHO’s CEO, says the crisis in Ukraine is a global emergency that is closer to us that we might think; and ASTHO plans two webinars next week to provide details about its upcoming 2022 Profile of State and Territorial Public Health, where the information collected helps ASTHO better advocate for sustainable public health funding on Capitol Hill.
This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Wednesday March 9, 2022. I’m Robert Johnson.
Now, today’s news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
Local organizations have been a key part of the Community COVID Coalition’s effort to increase vaccination rates among some young adult populations. Dr. Anne Marie Murphy is executive director of Equal Hope, one of the Coalition’s 25 community partners on the project. She tells us about her group’s work in the Chicago area. It’s today’s morning conversation.
What is the goal of the project, and what outcomes do you hope to see or have you seen so far?
DR. ANNE MARIE MURPHY:
So, we got involved in this COVID collaborative community project because we had already been working for over a decade on healthcare disparities. And, unfortunately, when COVID arose, it was clear there were very pronounced differences in survival in regards to COVID.
And since we had an array of community health workers already out in Chicago doing health education and encouragement to utilize healthcare services, we became a grantee and have been working very hard to authentically reach people to encourage vaccination, to also help people get to primary care if they get ill, and to navigate the often very complex healthcare system.
And how is it going so far?
I think the COVID collaboration is going well. We have definitely interacted with a lot of people. But one of the challenges is not everyone is trusting of the healthcare system and of vaccines, unfortunately. And some of the groups that are, in fact, most impacted by COVID unfortunately have good reason to be distrustful and therefore are unwilling to get vaccinated.
We have interacted with our churches, our community organizations to promote trusted messengers interacting with community members so as to encourage vaccination. But we do find that some people are dug-in and nothing that you can say, unfortunately, will encourage vaccination.
However, we are still encouraging vaccination and people getting boosters, and we do have success everyday and persuading more people to get vaccinated and to keep not only themselves safer, but also to keep their loved ones safer.
Even after a year of vaccines on the market, trust is still a problem.
It’s not surprising that trust is a problem. Racism has a long history in the American healthcare system, and in the research system. People have many good reasons to be distrustful, and it’s going to take more than a commercial or a radio or one radio show or one interaction to counteract decades of discrimination and, therefore, the buildup of distrust.
Later this week, Murphy tells us where her teams finds people willing to get the vaccine, and what keeps them going when others refuse the help.
The war in Ukraine was a topic of discussion recently at ASTHO, CEO Mike Fraser engaging the tragedy and the impact of the conflict in Eastern Europe.
We took the time at a staff meeting just last week to think about this briefly as a group. And one of the things I said was, “War is bad for public health.” And it’s a quote from Victor Sidel, who was a big influencer in physicians for social responsibility and a big part of American Public Health Association.
And he said those words, and at the time I first heard them I was like, “Oh, of course.” But it’s pretty deep when you start thinking about the layers that conflict impacts both generational and its impact for the long term.
Besides the awful mortality of war, Fraser says the refugee emergency, the impact on the mental and physical health of survivors, and the potential for an environmental disaster make this a global crisis—one that’s closer to us than we might think.
We’re a plane ride away, a storm cycle away from what happens around the world. I think that public health has always said we’re a global society now and we’re going to see more transmission of virus.
But you know, certainly what’s happening in Europe is germane to us here at ASTHO. We’ve got staff whose families are impacted and whose families are from the region and live in the border areas. And we may soon see refugees in the U.S. as well, I can imagine.
So, yeah, we should all pay attention to this and treat it as something close to us.
Finally today, it’s time for state and territorial health departments to make sure they’re counted in ASTHO’s 2022 profile of state and territorial public health. The survey begins April 4th. It’s the only comprehensive source of data on agency activities, governance, and resources. Information collected helps ASTHO better advocate for sustainable public health funding on Capitol Hill. All agencies are urged to complete the survey.
ASTHO has planned two webinars next week to discuss the process. Those conversations are scheduled for March 15th at 3 pm and 7 pm Eastern time. You can register using the link in the show notes.
That’ll do it for today’s newscast. We’ll be back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.
I’m Robert Johnson. You’re listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.