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Combatting COVID-19 Related Health Disparities

November 22nd, 2021

During the global pandemic, it has become apparent that COVID-19 disproportionately affects minority communities, which have traditionally been underrepresented in research. In an effort to improve health equity, the University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) recently awarded $25,000 grants to four research groups who propose to identify and reduce disparities in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. A look at the funded projects:

COVID-19 Vaccine Accessibility, Perceptions, and Attitudes in the LGBTQ+ Community: Recent research suggests that the LGBTQ+ community is more hesitant than the general population to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This study, led by Tyler Traister, DNP, RN, plans to examine perceptions and attitudes regarding the COVID-19 vaccine among community members who self-identify as LGBTQ+ with the hope of increasing rates of COVID-19 vaccination within these communities.

 • SARS-CoV2 Vaccination in Pregnant and Lactating Women: Pregnant and breastfeeding women have been underrepresented in SARS-CoV2 vaccine trials, leading to disparities in vaccination rates for this group. This study, led by Anne-Marie Rick, MD, MPH, PhD, will examine vaccine attitudes in this population, and address gaps in knowledge that drive vaccine disparities.

 • Racial Inequalities in COVID Vaccine Uptake & Access: This study will identify factors related to vaccine participation and hesitancy, and assess experiences with COVID-19 testing and vaccination among Black residents. Study leads Ashley Hill, DrPH, MPH, and Dara Mendez, PhD, MPH, hope the results will inform local decision-making to address and prevent poor COVID-19 outcomes among historically oppressed populations.

Vaccine Equity for Immigrants of Color: This study seeks to leverage the partnerships in place through the Pittsburgh Community Vaccine Collaborative, which is currently working to promote vaccine equity among communities of color. Led by Maya Ragavan, MD, MPH, MS, this study will focus on the unique needs of immigrant and refugee communities, especially those with limited English proficiency.

For a more in-depth look at these innovative projects, visit the CTSI website.