Determining who gets the COVID-19 vaccine first, while the brains of declining people dominate

Advocates and health organizations from Boston to Springfield are starting hearing sessions. Some are surveying their communities to identify credible local leaders who can help communicate credible information about coronoviruses and counter rumors and fears. But they face a daunting prospect, as many communities have to be an asymptomatic part of coronovirus disease and deaths stemming from years of discriminatory treatment by physicians and researchers also create deep-rooted suspicion.

In Boston, Roxbury Presbyterian Church The country’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Hosting none other than Anthony Fauci In A zoom event This month about battling with “health, equity, access and trust” during the epidemic.

Church pastor and Governor Charlie Baker’s member of COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group Rev. “I was a little surprised that many people in my community don’t trust this vaccine,” said Liz Walker. Try and get people real information and then they can make wise choices. “

The drugmaker Pfizer raised optimism last week when it announced the results of a preliminary test indicating its vaccine Can be 90 percent effective against COVID-19. If it gets federal approval, the company said, it intends to deliver enough doses to vaccinate 15 million to 20 million people by the end of December.

In its latest vaccine delivery plan, the Baker administration hopes to receive 20,000 and 60,000 doses in the first batch. The state intends to prioritize workers who have “direct or indirect” exposure to COVID-19 patients or in hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care settings. Next in line will be the required workers and people with underlying medical conditions at risk of essential COVID-19 disease, including those over 65.

The state’s blueprint does not imply priority vaccination for such hard-hit communities of color as Lawrence and Chelsea, but pledges that plans to ensure those with priority “social equity lenses” Will be completed

To estimate how many health care workers are considered unsafe due to exposure to COVID-19 on the job, consider Baystate Health in Springfield, the largest health care system in Western Massachusetts, with more than 12,000 employees. The president of Baystate, Drs. Mark Kerak, estimates half of those workers are at risk.

“We’ve looked at direct care divers, people who get their hands on patients – doctors and nurses”, Carek said. “But it also involves bringing people in food trays and cleaning the rooms. People transporting patients will also be in that group. “

In early October, the Baker administration assembled a 17-member vaccine advisory group, composed of public health and medical experts, community leaders, and elected officials for guidance on communications, distribution and equity issues. The administration acknowledged, in its recent vaccine report to federal regulators, that the ascent is feared to persuade some immigrant, black and Latin communities that vaccines will be safe.

Walker said she has joined the group because, as a person of color, she feels the responsibility to learn as much as she can about the vaccine and shares it with her community.

He said, “We cannot just say what the actual information is, at least without knowing that I will not do it.” We are living at a time with so many rumors and outright lies, and I am going to try. My hardest to get at the facts and my way of doing it is to be on the table. “

Kate Reilly, a spokesperson for the state’s COVID-19 command center, declined to say whether the Baker administration would receive a mandate that residents receive the vaccine, as did people who worked in nursing homes this season, living centers , Occurred with flu shots for those working in rest houses. And dialysis centers, where vaccination rates are historically low. The mandate seeks to shut down the flu and the devastating “twilight” of COVID-19.

The medical director at four nursing homes in the Metro West area and the head of geriatric medicine at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Drs. Asif Merchant said that the flu shot mandate has significantly increased vaccination rates. But it remains an open question whether there will be more buy-in translation for COVID-19 vaccines.

“I see a mixture of staff members who want [COVID-19] Vaccine as soon as possible and some who say ‘what if it’s not safe and it can be dangerous,’ “said Merchant, also a member of the governor’s advisory group.

Merchant said that many nursing home workers have been devastated by the horrors of death and illness seen in the epidemic and may help accept the vaccine.

“We need to say that it is for the greater good,” he said. But a lot more needs to be done for this. “

There will likely be a high barrier among the homeless who will not be given priority in the first batch of vaccines under the state plan, although elderly homeless people who are at risk of serious complications from COVID-19 will be in the second phase. may be considered. During the first peak of the epidemic, a third of homeless people in Boston were found infected.

About 3,500 homeless Boston residents last flu season, about half of the city’s estimated homeless population, agreed to get the flu shot, said Dr. Holly’s medical director of health care for the Homeless Program, Dr. Denis de las Nubool said.

Receiving approval for the COVID-19 vaccine, he said “there will be unchanged territory.”

To better address the disparities surrounding the virus, the Baker administration recently launched a 62-question survey and asked statewide community groups to share it With the residents. The survey asks about race, ethnicity, education, income, and gender identity, and asks whether respondents want the “most reliable and up-to-date” information about COVID-19 and whether they believe that to prevent infection Is the community getting enough support? Control those who have lost work during the epidemic.

The state’s vaccine delivery plan indicates that the Baker administration will rely on dozens of community health centers across Massachusetts to help bridge the gap with many neighborhoods.

Within the “community health ecosystem,” the YMCA, churches and local groups are banding together to conduct listening and learning sessions about the vaccine, said Michael Curry, incoming chief executive of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.

Recognizing that each community is different and that the suspicions created by discrimination run deep, they are asking at each stop, which the residents rely on as authority figures.

“Is this your bishop?” Your minister? Your local Dr. Anthony Fauci? Curry said. “Many children educate parents in first-generation immigrant families. We should educate those children on vaccines. “

Medical Director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Chelsea Healthcare Center, Drs. Dean Xerras, sees a ray of hope. Explaining residents, many of whom are uncomfortable with the immigrant health care system, struggle to get flu shots each year. But this year he is doing something different.

“I tell people, ‘This is probably the only year I’m going to take the flu pill,” Xerras said. “I think people were devastated by coronovirus, at least from families I’ve talked to, that patients who haven’t given flu shots in the past are willing to get the coronovirus vaccine.”

Kay Lazar can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @GlobeKayLazar.

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