Anyone who has ever been sick knows how important good health is to everything else in our lives. Without it, it’s hard to focus on parenting, job responsibilities, relationships and much more. Good health outcomes are vital for communities to grow and succeed. Every April, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) observes National Minority Health Month to highlight the importance of improving the health of racial and ethnic minorities and reducing health disparities.
In 1915, Booker T. Washington proposed the observance of “National Negro Health Week” recognizing that “health is the key to progress and equity in all other things.” He called on local health departments, schools, churches and businesses in the African American community to unite “in one great National Health Movement.” The week-long observance grew into the month-long campaign we have today to advance health equity across the country.
This Year’s Theme
Every April, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) observes National Minority Health Month to highlight the importance of improving the health of racial and ethnic minorities and reducing health disparities.
This year’s theme is Give Your Community a Boost! This theme highlights the importance of vaccines and booster shots as one of the best tools to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected communities of color.
Experiences of racism and discrimination within the health care system can lead to mistrust and anxiety. Because of this, people may choose to avoid health care services, question facts or gravitate to misinformation being spread. Give Your Community a Boost wants to focus on combating COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation, making sure we all have safe and trusted information to guide our decisions. In many communities, misinformation has led to a lower rate of vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a great resource to help you sort through and debunk many common myths about COVID-19 and provides facts about the vaccine and its safety. In addition, the CDC has answers to many questions people may have who are hesitant about receiving the vaccine.
Doing Our Part
We all can play a role in reducing health disparities related to COVID-19 in our communities.
- Encourage everyone to get the recommended COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots. Veterans can learn where to schedule a vaccine, what to expect and much more on the Department of Veterans Affairs website.
- Make informed decisions based on accurate information and take time to research and debunk misinformation.
- Download sample messages and ideas to post on social media to raise awareness within your network of friends and family.
- Check out great information, videos, posters and much more on the OMH’s resources page.
- Provide your community with access to quality and timely information on COVID-19 and the vaccine in your local area.
- Do it your way. Maybe it’s through an event you hold at your church or a conversation you have with your own family to provide important facts about vaccines. You know your community best.
Our country is growing more diverse every day and today’s active-duty military is more racially and ethnically diverse than in previous generations, which means it is more important than ever to shine a light on health disparities within our Veteran communities. There are several resources designed to help minority Veterans get the services they deserve.
- Learn about the Center for Minority Veterans and its mission and outreach efforts to ensure all Veterans receive equal service regardless of race, origin, religion or gender.
- Check out the Minority Veterans Program, which provides a wide range of information on benefits such as health care, home loans, education and much more.
- Speak to a Minority Veterans Program Coordinator who can help you learn about what benefits you qualify for, assist you with applying and refer you to other resources to help meet your needs.
National Minority Health Month can serve as our reminder to lift our communities up and protect ourselves and each other, making sure we live the best, most healthy lives possible.