Continuity of Trust

Given COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on populations that identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in the United States, researchers and advocates have recommended that health systems and institutions deepen their engagement with community-based organizations (CBOs) with longstanding relationships with these communities. However, even as CBOs leverage their earned trust to promote COVID-19 vaccination, health systems and institutions must also address underlying causes of health inequities more broadly. In this commentary, we discuss key lessons learned about trust from our participation in the U.S. Equity-First Vaccination Initiative, an effort funded by The Rockefeller Foundation to promote COVID-19 vaccination equity. The first lesson is that trust cannot be “surged” to meet the needs of the moment until it is no longer deemed important; rather, it must predate and outlast the crisis. Second, to generate long-term change, health systems cannot simply rely on CBOs to bridge the trust gap; instead, they must directly address the root causes of this gap among BIPOC populations.

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