‘We need to amplify trusted resources’ Regence expert weighs in on continued vaccine hesitancy

By Regence
August 30, 2021
KATU virtual town hall COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

As  COVID-19 cases spike in nearly every corner of the U.S., vaccine hesitancy is an ongoing concern.    

In Oregon, the highly contagious Delta variant has pushed infection rates to record levels. Just last week, the Oregon Health Authority reported over 3,200 new COVID-19 cases in a single day—numbers not seen since the start of the pandemic.

While the number of people getting their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is rising nationwide, an analysis of Oregon’s ZIP codes shows that vaccination rates lag in lower-income parts of the state.

KATU-TV hosted a virtual town hall with panel of local experts Thursday to explore lagging vaccination rates and continued vaccine hesitancy, particularly among people of color. A general lack of trust—rooted in historical mistreatment by the medical community—has driven many to avoid the vaccine, even as infection and hospitalization rates among these populations continues to rise.  

“Look at the data; look at the people that have participated in the clinical trials for these vaccines,” urged Dr. Bukhosi Dube, a senior adviser with the Oregon Health Authority, who participated in KATU’s town hall. “There were over 110,000 participants in the clinical trials, and over 11,000 people of color that were involved in the trials to make sure that these vaccines are safe, effective and work in people that are like you and I. Get vaccinated because the vaccines are safe. Get vaccinated to protect yourself. Get vaccinated to protect those who are near and dear to you.”   

Regence is deeply invested in the health of our communities, and we have taken steps to address vaccine hesitancy and ensure the equitable distribution of the vaccine.

Senior Vice President of Customer Experience and Operations Tonya Adams has been involved in this work at a national level, advising the White House through her involvement in the Vaccine Community Connectors program. Since March, the program has vaccinated more than 2 million people in underserved communities nationwide.

Adams shared her perspective on the program with KATU-TV. She addressed the steps needed to address vaccine hesitancy—particularly for people of color—to improve community health.

“We must help amplify trusted resources from the CDC and the Oregon Health Authority,” Adams says. “Ensuring that folks have access to appropriate information to answer their questions about the vaccine, the side effects, efficacy rates and more can help them be informed and make that decision to get vaccinated.”

Watch Adams’ interview with KATU here.

Together with our corporate foundation, Regence has invested more than $300,000 into nearly 30 nonprofit organizations in Oregon addressing barriers to access and ensuring the equitable distribution of the vaccine. Learn more about how Regence is leaning in to support our members and our greater community on our blog.