COVID‑19 Health Outcomes and Vaccinations

The clinical focus for this DRIVE Toolkit is to help build equity for COVID-19 health outcomes and vaccination rates in underserved communities and communities of color.

Impact from COVID-19

COVID-19 has imposed a global pandemic and tremendous burden on U.S. hospital and public health systems. As of February 2021, in the United States, COVID-19 has been responsible for:

  • 28,221,129 cases
  • 501, 663 deaths
  • 143, 829 laboratory confirmed hospitalizations (March 7, 2020 – February 13, 2021)

Though it is still unclear who specifically can face serious complications from a COVID-19 infection, some patients face a significantly increased risk of hospitalization and death, including:

  • Patients with comorbidities, including chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and obesity
  • Older adults
  • Individuals who are immunocompromised
  • Individuals of certain racial and ethnic populations, including Black patients, Hispanic patients, Latinx patients, and Indigenous patients

Racial Disparities Exist in COVID-19 Vaccinations

People of color experience chronic diseases at a higher rate than their white counterparts, such as heart disease (6x more likely in Black patients), respiratory illness, diabetes (10x more likely in Hispanic patients), hypertension, heart disease, and obesity. These comorbidities increase the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 in these populations. COVID-19 education and vaccination can protect higher risk patients from severe outcomes. However, there are significant racial disparities in COVID-19 health outcomes, health literacy, and vaccination rates, in addition to the broader limitations of the sheer low number of vaccine doses and access to these vaccines in higher risk communities. Namely, reports in February of 2021 demonstrated that there is a wide shortage of vaccination sites in southern states and Black communities. Other reports reflecting the same timeframe showed the deep inequities in Los Angeles’ vaccine rollout and that affluent whites are going to Black communities in Los Angeles to receive vaccinations earmarked by the state for the Black communities that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Since COVID-19 poses a particular significant health risk to patients with chronic illnesses, and these illnesses are more prevalent in people of color, COVID-19 vaccination for these populations is critical.

Unacceptable racial disparities and inequities in COVID-19 health outcomes and vaccination rates require immediate action.

The DRIVE Toolkit is a framework that can be utilized to help improve COVID-19 health outcomes and vaccination rates in underserved communities and communities of color.

  1. Source: COVID-NET: COVID-19-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed on February 23, 2021.
  2. Source: Dong E, Du H, Gardner L. An interactive web-based dashboard to track COVID-19 in real time. Lancet Inf Dis. 20(5):533-534. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30120-1

If you have used a DRIVE Toolkit to improve health outcomes or need additional assistance, please contact us by filling out the form below.