Students Who Rocked Public Health: Olivia Nathan
Last month, Olivia Nathan, an online student in Ohio State University’s MPH Program for Experienced Professionals, was listed as one of 13 Students Who Rocked Public Health in 2021 for her work as a community engagement pharmacist with Equitas Health (EH) and one of the lead pharmacists administering COVID-19 vaccines to patients in the King Lincoln District of Columbus, Ohio. Here, she describes her efforts in more detail. Follow along each month as we profile other Students Who Rocked Public Health 2021.
My name is Olivia Nathan, community engagement pharmacist with Equitas Health (EH) and one of the lead pharmacists administering COVID-19 vaccines to patients. Our pharmacy is in the King Lincoln District of Columbus, Ohio, and is a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides primary care services in underserved areas.
When community members search the Ohio Department of Health website for vaccine locations by zip code, we (EH) are the only vaccine provider in the 43203-zip code. Yet, since we received our first batch of COVID-19 vaccines in 2020, I noticed that many vaccine recipients come from outside the 43203 area and surrounding communities. Given the demographic data of the King Lincoln District and the approved phase distribution cohorts, we did not see enough Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) from this community getting vaccinated.
The mission is to vaccinate as many people as vaccine inventory allows and we welcome all who seek care with Equitas Health. It is critically important, however, that as a person of color, I help increase efforts to bring awareness, education, and access to the COVID-19 vaccine to communities with low vaccine uptake–most notably predominately Black/African American and Latinx/Hispanic communities.
There are many factors that create challenges to vaccination access and acceptance that often affect racial and ethnic minority groups. Some of these factors include education, income, and wealth gaps; job access and working conditions; racism and other forms of discrimination; gaps in health care access; transportation and neighborhood conditions; and, lack of trust as a result of past medical racism and experimentation. Because of these and other challenges, some Black or African American people and Hispanic or Latinx people are less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19 than people in other racial and ethnic minority groups and non- Hispanic White people.
The goal of my public health work was to build vaccine confidence and increase uptake among members of racial and ethnic minority communities. We must stop talking about health disparities and commit to the difficult work required to achieve health equity. As a result, I worked with community leaders and trusted members of the community to plan a series of successful vaccinations clinics across the state of Ohio, giving thousands of Ohioans the access to care they are worthy of. The work has increased vaccine access in communities with low uptake, focusing on Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) residents from elderly to children. With community outreach and engagement, my team was able to provide accessible education and vaccinations to targeted communities.
- Olivia Nathan is a community engagement pharmacist with Equitas Health and one of the lead pharmacists administering COVID-19 vaccines to patients in the King Lincoln District of Columbus, Ohio, a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides primary care services in underserved areas.
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