#23: The COVID Vaccine Rollout and Health Equity with Dr. Lauren Smith and Dr. Letitia Dzirasa
Play • 45 min

We're excited to share a joint episode in collaboration with the What is Black? and Flesh 'N Bold podcasts in which we're discussing everything you need to know about the COVID vaccines. Joining us are Dr. Lauren Smith, Chief Health Equity and Strategy Officer for the CDC Foundation, and Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, Commissioner of Health for the Baltimore City Health Department, who talk about the launch of the COVID vaccine, the COVID vaccine and children, health inequities, and the vaccine rollout in communities of color. Listen in now!

Lauren A. Smith, MD, MPH is the Chief Health Equity and Strategy Officer for the CDC Foundation. In this role, she partners with the CDC Foundation’s other senior leaders to develop and drive strategic efforts to embed health equity across the Foundation’s COVID-19 response activities with an explicit focus on addressing systemic racism and its impact on vulnerable populations’ resiliency amidst the pandemic. Her previous leadership roles have included serving as co-CEO of FSG, one of the world’s leading social impact consulting firms; as medical director and then interim commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health; as senior strategic advisor for a national innovation and improvement network focused on reducing infant mortality; as national medical director of the Medical Legal Partnership for Children; and as the medical director of the pediatric inpatient service at Boston Medical Center, where she was on faculty in the Department of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine. She currently serves on the boards of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Health Law Advocates, Tobacco Free Mass and Zero to Three. She has published extensively in peer-reviewed literature on health equity and the implication of social policies on child and family wellbeing. Dr. Smith holds a BA with honors in biology from Harvard College, an MD from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, and an MPH from the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. She completed her pediatrics residency and chief residency at Children’s Hospital Boston and her general pediatrics fellowship at Boston Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics.

Letitia Dzirasa, MD joined the Baltimore City government as the Commissioner of Health in March 2019. Her special interests include obesity management and prevention, trauma-informed care in children and adolescents, and expanded use of technology to improve health outcomes.  Prior to joining the Health Department, she worked at Fearless Solutions (Fearless), a Baltimore-based digital services firm that builds custom software solutions for local and federal government clients. In her role at Fearless as Health Innovation Officer, Dr. Dzirasa was responsible for managing the Healthcare IT portfolio for the company and provided clinical subject matter expertise to HIT projects. Dr. Dzirasa also has close clinical ties to the Baltimore community, having trained at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in pediatrics and having worked as medical director for school-based health and quality at the Baltimore Medical System from 2013-2016.  In addition to holding a BS from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in biological sciences, Dr. Dzirasa graduated from Meharry Medical College summa cum laude in 2007.  She lives in downtown Baltimore with her husband and son.  


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