The Medical Social Justice League
The Medical Social Justice League began in the Fall of 2020 because the COVID-19 pandemic limited our opportunities to be hands-on with the community. As a result, we embarked on a journey to investigate existing health inequities in the community using data and research. Our project’s goal was to identify and execute a community intervention that would improve health outcomes and ultimately save lives among underserved individuals.
Throughout the process we learned how the COVID-19 pandemic had disproportionately affected minority populations, including the higher incidence of morbidity and mortality in the LatinX community. These trends were particularly relevant to us in Washoe County where 25% of our population identifies as Hispanic/LatinX.
When the vaccine came out, we decided to focus our efforts on improving vaccination rates among members of the Latinx community through outreach. We formed a collaboration with #COVIDCrew from the School of Community Health Sciences at UNR in order to work together toward this goal. We identified several barriers contributing to a lesser degree of vaccine uptake among the LatinX population. These included poor information in Spanish, challenging sign-up processes, hours not accommodating of working individuals, and misinformation leading to issues with vaccine confidence and hesitancy. Therefore, we focused our efforts on ways to overcome barriers to the COVID-19 vaccine by addressing concerns and providing education through outreach about the vaccine. Additionally, we sought to gather local data to better understand challenges faced by the community.
Our first efforts included providing volunteers to local vaccine distribution events including those at Community Health Alliance. With #COVIDCrew, we began community outreach events at local Latinx churches and at an event with the Mexican consulate where we answered questions and concerns about the vaccine and helped overcome access-related challenges. We subsequently have worked to plan a vaccine clinic at one of the churches to help bring the vaccine to members of the LatinX population. As medical students, this project has been exceedingly impactful to demonstrate the importance of outreach and education. Overall, through these efforts we have worked to enable equitable vaccine access among the LatinX population to address health disparities exacerbated by the pandemic with the goal of improving health outcomes and creating a healthier community.