Historically marginalized groups – including individuals dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid – continue to be disproportionately harmed by the COVID-19 public health emergency.1,2 Projections state that the United States could see 100 million COVID-19 infections and a potentially significant wave of deaths this fall and winter, driven by new omicron subvariants.3 In addition, getting a flu vaccine will be critical during the cold weather seasons because flu viruses and COVID-19 will likely be spreading concurrently. Historically marginalized groups are at higher risk for developing severe complications from the flu as well as from COVID-19.4 Flu vaccination helps prevent or reduce the severity of flu illness and a reduction of outpatient illnesses, hospitalizations, and intensive care unit admissions could alleviate the stress on the U.S. health care system caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Strategies to reduce the persistent health disparities that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health emergency include:
- Ensuring access to COVID-19 and influenza vaccines, particularly for homebound individuals
- Addressing vaccine hesitancy in a culturally appropriate manner
- Expanding access to health care
- Engaging dually eligible people in their health care decisions
- Addressing social determinants of health
- Developing culturally appropriate and equitable care models
Health plans serving dually eligible beneficiaries can play a key role in facilitating access to and educating members on the importance of influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations, including boosters.
This webinar builds upon the April 1, 2021 webinar, “Strategies for Health Plans to Support Access to COVID-19 Vaccines for Vulnerable Populations” and the November 2, 2021 webinar, “Leveraging Partnerships to Promote Flu Vaccinations Among Dually Eligible Beneficiaries During COVID-19” by considering lessons learned about the impacts of COVID-19 on advancing health equity, cultural awareness, and eliminating health disparities for dually eligible beneficiaries. A group of subject matter experts and health plan representatives share successful strategies and promising practices for promoting equitable and culturally competent COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations to dually eligible beneficiaries. The event concludes with a panel discussion facilitated by staff from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health.
By the end of this webinar, attendees should be able to:
- Develop community partnerships to raise awareness and promote equitable access to influenza vaccines, COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, boosters, and care.
- Discuss culturally appropriate outreach to address vaccine hesitancy.
- Identify effective communication mechanisms to reach high risk populations.
- Darci Graves, CMS Office of Minority Health
- Alexandra Bryden, CMS Office of Minority Health
- Dr. Sheree H. Keitt, Program Director for the Vaccine Equity and Access Program, Community Catalyst
- Rod Teamer, Director of Diversity Programs & Business Development, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
- Eric Yarnell, Vice President Pharmacy, Highmark Wholecare
- Dr. Peter Watson, Vice President for Clinical Operations and Strategy, Health Alliance Plan
This webinar is intended for a wide range of stakeholders, including health plan administrators, clinical leadership, care coordinators, and case managers at health plans (including Medicare-Medicaid Plans , Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans, and managed Long-Term Services & Supports plans), as well as providers and other health care and community-based organizations who are interested in strategies related to the communication and delivery of COVID-19 and flu vaccinations to dually eligible beneficiaries.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). COVID-19: People with Disabilities. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-disabilities.html.
2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022). Health Equity Considerations and Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/health-equity/race-ethnicity.html.
3The Washington Post (May 6, 2022). Coronavirus wave this fall could infect 100 million, administration warns. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/05/06/fall-winter-coronavirus-wave/.
4Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (October 7, 2021). Flu Vaccination Coverage, United States, 2020–21 Influenza Season. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/fluvaxview/coverage-2021estimates.htm.