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Readout of the Second COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Meeting

On Friday, COVID-19 Health Equity Chair, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith convened the second COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force to discuss the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-society approach to mitigate the health inequities caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and for preventing such inequities in the future. This meeting specifically covered vaccine access and confidence.

Dr. Nunez-Smith opened the meeting with these powerful words, “As a Task Force we take our charge very seriously. We will continue to push for the disaggregated and targeted data that are necessary for a data driven response…and we will elevate the positive assets and wisdom, often ignored or undervalued in the hardest hit communities as we generate recommendations and guidance.”  

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra shared his commitment to address health equity stating, “…equity will be a part of everything we do at HHS—whether it’s dealing with vaccine confidence in some of our communities, or whether it’s making sure we produce data that tells us what to do in regards to healthcare—we make sure we include everyone in those surveys and sample projects …”

During the meeting Task Force members heard three presentations that focused on:

  • Equity in COVID-19 Vaccinations: Understanding and Addressing Gaps;
  • Achieving Health Equity for Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities; and
  • Equitable Vaccine Access for People with Disabilities.

“There is a clear sign of the commitment from President Joe Biden to make equity and health equity a top priority for this Administration. So, I thank each and every one of you that are a part of this Task force for the work that you are going to do. It will inform not just this Administration, but for years to come, where this country goes,” Secretary Becerra said.

Task Force Members discussed and voted affirmatively on short-term, as well as, long-term interim recommendations focused on specifically:

  • How federal agencies and State, local, Tribal, and territorial officials can best allocate COVID-19 resources to improve healthcare access and quality care to appropriately address inequities related to vaccines’ access and acceptance;
  • Coordinating across federal agencies, State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities to advance culturally responsive communications that are sensitive to their concerns about COVID-19 vaccines in ways to improve equitable access and acceptance rates;
  • How to advance cultural competency, language access, and sensitivity towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the context of addressing structural drivers of Xenophobia, Racism and Discriminations against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; and improving COVID-19 vaccines’ access and acceptance within the communities; and
  • Expediting data collection for communities of color and other underserved populations, and identifying data sources, proxies, or indices that address data shortfalls and other foundational data challenges, including those relating to data intersectionality that must be tackled in order for the nation to better prepare and equitably respond to future pandemics.

To watch the full recording of the second COVID-19 Health Task Force Meeting, please use the following links:

Part 1:

Part 2:

The next meeting of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force is tentatively scheduled for Friday, April 30.  Stay up-to-date by subscribing to e-mail updates.

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