COVID Vaccine Equity Research Dialogues (CoVEReD): Paul Delamater, PhD
COVID Vaccine Equity Research Dialogues (CoVEReD): Paul Delamater, PhD
April 6, 2021
Paul Delamater
As the vaccine rollout progresses, are shots making it to the places and people that need it the most? 
In today's edition of our COVID Vaccine Equity Research Dialogues (CoVEReD), Paul Delamater, PhD joins hosts Alison Buttenheim, PhD, MBA and Harald Schmidt, PhD, MA to discuss how vaccination allocations should respond to vaccine supply and demand dynamics. 
Alison Buttenheim, Harald Schmidt
Delamater is an Assistant Professor of Geography, Fellow at the Carolina Population Center, and Fellow at the Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  
Watch the 14-minute video discussion below, followed by a written episode overview.
CoVEReD Video
Episode Overview
Alison Buttenheim lays out the latest background: "We're a month away from President Biden's May 1 fully eligible deadline. But in some states, available vaccine appointments are going unfilled. In other areas, people can't get appointments. And we know disparities of all kinds are emerging from that supply constraint. And on top of that, it's pretty clear that cases of COVID are resurging." So, should we be making real-time adjustments to where we allocate the vaccine? Our guest for the episode, geographer Paul Delamater, brings a spatial perspective to allocation, eligibility, and distribution decisions.
Delamater thinks not only about who the people in need are, but also where they are. Although we have data on COVID-19 "hotspots," they generally reflect the situation a week or two prior, and often are not localized enough (reporting numbers at the county level, for example) to be useful in targeted allocations of vaccines. 
As eligibility expands, we also have little local data on how well we have reached earlier eligibility groups. Harald Schmidt argues that it is key to continue to prioritize more vulnerable communities to simultaneously promote equity and public health, and to avoid inequitable 'first-clicked-first-served' systems in registering for vaccination appointments.
Ultimately, allocation of vaccine supply has to be paired with effective distribution strategies that simplify the process for scheduling and getting to appointments, and proactively work with communities where we anticipate higher rates of hesitancy. To confront the inequities in distribution, we need to avoid the trap of blaming – 'they didn’t want it, so they don’t get it' – and instead ask, why has uptake been low, and what can we do about it?
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