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White Americans receiving Covid vaccine at higher rates than Black and Latino Americans

Danielle Zoellner
·4-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

White Americans are getting a Covid-19 vaccine at significantly higher rates compared to Black and Latino Americans, based on data released by the states.

Only 17 states are currently reporting some vaccination data of people’s race and ethnicity, and 16 of those states provide a full distribution of Covid-19 vaccinations based on race and ethnicity, as of 19 January.

The 16 states currently providing a full report of vaccinations based on race and ethnicity are Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Vriginia – according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) analysis.

Black Americans share of Covid-19 cases in these 16 states is greater than their share of the vaccinations. In 15 states, their share of the deaths toll is greater than their share of the vaccinations.

In Mississippi, for example, Black Americans make up 38 per cent of Covid-19 cases and 42 per cent of deaths in the state. But only 15 per cent of those vaccinated are Black residents. Maryland also showed a stark divide in its data with Black Americans making up 33 per cent of cases and 38 per cent of deaths, but only 17 per cent of those vaccinated were Black residents.

This trend was similarly discovered among Latino Americans in most of the 16 states.

Analysis of these states found that White Americans received a larger share of the vaccinations compared to their share of Covid-19 cases in 13 of the 16 states. They were also vaccinated at higher rates compared to their share of the death toll in nine of those states, KFF reported.

Asian Americans were one minority population group that experienced a significantly smaller gap in their share of vaccinations versus cases and deaths in the above states.

Across the country, Black and Latino Americans are dying from Covid-19 at three times the rate of White Americans and they are hospitalised from the novel virus at four times the rate, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

These findings come at a time when states across the country have struggled to vaccinate their residents based on the limited supply of doses currently available. In recent weeks, the federal government has opened up eligibility guidelines to include those 65 years and older, as well as healthcare workers and those living in long-term care facilities.

But one challenge the country would continue to face was equitably distributing the vaccine to all communities.

Last week the Biden administration released its national Covid-19 response plan, which included addressing the racial disparities within the healthcare system that were further exacerbated in the pandemic.

Under President Joe Biden, the federal government would now take a hands-on role in assisting states with aspects of the pandemic, such as vaccine distribution. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was charged with the task of developing mass vaccinations sites across the US to target larger population groups. The goal was to create 100 new sites within the next month.

Mr Biden also created the Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force that would directly address the racial disparities in the pandemic.

The task force would "expand the availability of testing and vaccines in communities of colour, and other underserved communities, ensure that new clinical treatments are developed to serve diverse Americans, and safely reopen our schools so that children who are facing disproportionately high risks of learning loss can get back into the classroom,” the plan stated.

Experts have called for vaccination and testing sites to open up at community places in underserved areas, such as churches and community centres. The Biden administration said it was considering sporting arenas, school gyms, and other community spaces to serve as Covid-19 sites across the country.

Additionally, experts have called for vaccine hours to open up outside of business hours for people who work during the day. States like New York recently opened 24/7 vaccine sites to serve this purpose.

Building public trust would also be a necessary step for health officials and government leaders to prioritise if they want more population groups to feel comfortable receiving the vaccine.

Black Americans have a stronger distrust towards the US healthcare system due to past treatment. Historically, the medical community used Black bodies without their consent for the advancement of treatments and technologies. At the same time, a system of repression was formed that gave Black Americans limited access to resources.

Susan Rice, the director of the Domestic Policy Council, said communities of colour have “very valid historical reasons” to be “skeptical and reluctant” about vaccinations. But she said the Biden administration would prioritise building back this trust.

Mr Biden’s Covid-19 plan also included a “federally led, locally focused” public education advertising campaign to inform all communities on treatments like the vaccine.

The campaign was “designed with diversity and inclusivity in mind, including communications in multiple languages, to maximise reach and effectiveness,” the plan stated.

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