The month of April marks National Minority Health Month (NMHM), a month-long period to raise awareness about health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minority populations. Advocacy and education are two key components of this month, encouraging action through health education, early detection, and control of disease complications. (National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities).
It’s no secret that racial and ethnic minorities receive lower-quality healthcare than non-minorities do. Statistics show that when it comes to many diseases and illnesses (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental health, infant mortality), minorities have a higher rate of mortality and a higher prevalence of these illnesses (Aetna). As HealthCare Access Maryland (HCAM) works to make Maryland healthier, we continuously have these disparities in mind as we serve our community. Everything we do is to ensure that individuals, no matter their racial background, receive equitable access to care and services.
The theme for this year’s NMHM is #VaccineReady. The focus of #VaccineReady stems from the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on racial and ethnic minority and American Indian and Alaska Native communities. It brings attention to the need for these vulnerable communities to not only get vaccinated, but also have access to education surrounding the vaccine (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health).
With this year’s theme, #VaccineReady, we find it important to continue to empower communities and individuals to get the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine. We know minority groups face disparities and structural barriers to care, which ultimately have resulted in hesitancy and fear when it comes to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Research and education related to the COVID-19 vaccine will set an individual up for making the best possible decision when it comes to getting vaccinated.
The CDC has many great resources on their website to answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and help individuals better understand the vaccine’s benefits, potential side effects, and safety:
- Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines
- Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination
- Key Things to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines
Local to Maryland? Find a COVID-19 Vaccine site near you and pre-register for a vaccination at a mass vaccination site. The following three vaccination sites have 200 walk-in slots from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily: Hagerstown Premium Outlets, the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center, and M&T Bank Stadium.
With the COVID-19 pandemic well into a year, we’ve learned just how important it is to maintain your mental and physical health. It’s imperative to keep in mind that one of the best things an individual can do is to participate in any form of physical activity (walking, running, biking, yoga, etc.). Staying active is a key component to improving one’s health and living a healthy life. We encourage individuals to check out the National Institute of Health’s fun and engaging resource for families to participate in in honor of Minority Health Awareness Month – Minority Health Bingo Challenge. This challenge allows for individuals or families to get active and engage in both physical and mental health activities that stress the importance of health and safety.
Looking for an easy way to get active and support HCAM? Register for our virtual walk/run celebration in honor of HCAM’s 24th anniversary. Taking place between April 24th and April 30th, you can participate from anywhere! Simply complete your 2.4 mile walk/run around your neighborhood or on a treadmill, and share a picture to our event Facebook page with the hashtag #HCAM24candles. Your support will make a difference in our community. By walking with HCAM, you’re helping us further our mission to make Maryland healthier. Your generous support allows HCAM to continue providing health insurance and care coordination services to Maryland residents in need.