Alice R Pressman, Stephen H Lockhart, Zijun Shen, Kristen M J Azar, Health Equity.;5(1):476-483. doi: 10.1089/heq.2021.0047. eCollection 2021., 2021 Jul 13
Purpose: The coronavirus pandemic has created the greatest public health crisis in a century, causing >500,000 deaths in the United States alone. Minoritized and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups have borne a disproportionate burden of severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. Recently developed FDA-approved vaccines have been shown to significantly reduce severe COVID-19-related outcomes. Vaccination campaigns have the potential to advance health equity by prioritizing allocation to those at highest risk while striving for herd immunity. Large integrated health systems have been faced with the daunting task of meeting the rapidly evolving needs of diverse patient populations for the provision of population-based testing, treatment, education, and now vaccine distribution. We have designed a COVID-19 vaccine equity index (CVEI) to guide health system vaccination strategy.
Methods: We considered proportion unvaccinated within a health care system. We then used real-time readily available electronic health record (EHR) COVID-19 testing positivity and proportion hospitalized to measure burden of illness by race/ethnicity. We used conditional probability and statistical theory to measure equity for unvaccinated individuals and to derive an index to highlight these inequities for specific subgroups.
Results: We present an illustrative hypothetical example using simulated data for which we calculated the CVEI for non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic Asian, and Hispanic patients. In the example, non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic patients had inequitable outcomes.
Conclusion: The index can be widely implemented to promote more equitable outcomes among racial/ethnic groups, reducing morbidity and mortality within the overall population as we pursue the collective goal of herd immunity through mass vaccination.