Using Disadvantage Indices Issue Brief Cover

Using Disadvantage Indices to Guide State Health Equity Efforts: On-the-Ground Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic

This brief summarizes a June 2021 workshop focused on states’ experiences using disadvantage indices to inform their COVID-19 vaccination efforts, including emerging challenges and lessons learned.

Download Publication

Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) across America have disproportionately borne the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic, laying bare the longstanding and systemic inequities facing disadvantaged communities. As COVID-19 vaccines neared emergency approval in the United States, a growing number of states used disadvantage indices, such as the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index, the COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index, the Area Deprivation Index, and the California Healthy Places Index, to inform their vaccination efforts.

In June 2021, supported by Blue Shield of California Foundation, AcademyHealth convened a workshop where policymakers, researchers, and others shared their on-the-ground experiences using disadvantage indices to respond to COVID-19, including emerging challenges and lessons learned. Participants also discussed how these tools might help guide policymaker efforts to dismantle structural discrimination by identifying—and then allocating resources more equitably to—marginalized communities that disproportionately lack equal access to health care, education, safe housing, and other resources.

This brief summarizes key themes and learnings from the workshop for policymakers, researchers, and others interested or involved in state health equity efforts.

View a related webinar here.


Alwyn Cassil

Principal - Policy Translation, LLC

Alwyn Cassil is principal of Policy Translation, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in health research and po... Read Bio