In the United States, blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans are dying at a rate three times that of whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The current Coronavirus Vaccination campaign also shows a Racial Gap: Blacks lag behind Whites in many areas, an analysis by The Associated Press clearly shows the Coronavirus Racism taking place in the US.
Due to deportation fears, there is also mistrust among Hispanics, which is undermining vaccination efforts in that community, aside from the language barrier, activists say.
A preliminary survey of the 17 states and two cities that have released a racial breakdown of vaccinations as of January 25 found that black people everywhere are being vaccinated at levels below their proportion of the population, in some cases significantly below.
That is despite the fact that black people make up a much larger percentage of the country’s health workers, who were placed at the front of the lines to receive injections when the campaign began in mid-December.
For example, in North Carolina, black people make up 22% of the population and 26% of healthcare workers, but they are only 11% of those who have received vaccinations so far. Whites, a category in which the state includes Hispanic and non-Hispanic whites, make up 68% of the population and 82% of those vaccinated.
The racial gap in vaccinations is extremely concerning, given that the coronavirus has caused a disproportionately higher toll of severe illness and deaths among the black population in the United States, where the pandemic has killed more than 430,000 people.
“We are going to see a widening and exacerbation of racial inequities in health that existed before the pandemic and worsened during the pandemic if our communities do not have access to the vaccine,” said Dr. Uché Blackstock, an emergency physician in New York and CEO of Advancing Health Equity, an advocacy group dealing with bias and inequality.
Experts say that several factors could be driving the emerging disparity, including a deep distrust of the black community in the medical establishment due to a history of discrimination, inadequate access to the vaccine in black neighborhoods and a digital divide that could make it difficult to obtain crucial information . Registration for vaccines is being done mostly online.
“It’s infuriating and difficult,” said Dr. Michelle Fiscus, who heads the vaccination program in Tennessee, a state that has doubled the doses sent to some heavily-hit rural areas, but has encountered deep-seated mistrust from some black residents.
“We have to work very hard to rebuild that trust and vaccinate those people,” Fiscus said. “They are dying. They are being hospitalized. “
Hispanics also lag behind in vaccinations, but their levels are closer to expectations in most of the places studied. On average, Hispanics are younger than the rest of Americans and vaccinations have not yet been open to young people.
However, several states where Hispanic communities were particularly hit by the virus have yet to report numbers, notably California and New York.
President Joe Biden is trying to offer more equality in launching the vaccination campaign he inherited from the Donald Trump administration. The Joe Biden administration is encouraging states to map and target vulnerable neighborhoods using tools like the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index, which incorporates data on race, poverty, crowded housing and other factors.
“We are going to take additional steps to reach the most difficult to reach people and that work is being done now,” said Dr. Marcella Marcella Nunez-Smith, who heads Biden’s task force for COVID-19.
Most states have not yet released racial data on those vaccinated. Even in the states that provided breakdowns, the data is often incomplete, with many details about race missing. However, the missing information is not enough in most cases to change the big picture.
Data came from Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia, plus two cities: Philadelphia and Chicago. .
The AP analysis found that whites are generally being vaccinated at rates close to or higher than expected in most of the states examined.
Initially, healthcare workers and residents of long-term care homes were given priority for injections in the United States.
In the past two weeks, many states opened up eligibility to a broader group of seniors and more workers on the front lines against the pandemic, which could further reduce the relative proportion of black people being vaccinated. The population over 65 in the United States is whiter than those of other ages.
Among the conclusions of the analysis:
– In Maryland, the black population represents 30% of the population and 40% of health workers, but only 16% of people vaccinated so far. White people, who in the state data include Hispanic whites, constitute 55% of the population and 67% of those vaccinated. Hispanics of any race are 11% of the population and 5% of those vaccinated.
– In Philadelphia, black people are 40% of the population, but only 14% of those vaccinated so far in the city. Hispanics are 15% of the population and 4% of those vaccinated.
– In Chicago, black people are 30% of the population, but only 15% of those vaccinated so far. With Hispanics, the numbers are 29% versus 17%.
The vaccination campaign has been slower and has had more problems than expected. Many Americans of all races have gone to work to receive the vaccine because supplies are limited. In all, about 7% of people in the United States have received at least one dose, but there are other problems that delay vaccination among black Americans and other groups, experts say.
In some black neighborhoods no one has registered for vaccinations.
“We’ve heard it over and over again: A lot of black people want to get the vaccine from their doctor or at their local clinic, because they are the ones they trust,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, a health official in Mississippi.
Louisiana is using the CDC tool to locate vulnerable neighborhoods without vaccination sites and then recruiting vaccinators in those neighborhoods, said Dr. Joseph Kanter of the state health department.
Other strategies underway in some states: provide transportation so people can get to appointments on time and reach people stranded at home via mobile vaccination units.
To address the problem of mistrust, Thomas LaVeist, dean of the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans, is recruiting notable African Americans to promote vaccination. The campaign, called “The Skin You Have,” produced a video by local hip-hop artist Big Freedia that jokingly demonstrates how to use the masks.
Although LaVeist credits the previous federal government for supporting vaccine development, he said that naming the project Operation Warp Speed was a “disastrous” decision because it emphasized speed, not careful scientific review.
“I totally understand the mistrust,” said LaVeist, who received his first dose on Monday. “But you have to consider the risk of COVID versus the risk of the vaccine. It is a devastating disease and has disproportionately impacted black Americans the most. That is what we know”.
Many black Americans and other non-whites are taking steps to make sure their communities get the vaccine, including Detroit health worker Sameerah Singletary, who will be getting her shot soon.
More than 1,700 residents of the largest black-majority city in the country have died from the virus, including some of Singletary’s friends and godmother, but she knows that many refuse to get vaccinated.
“I think there is a collective trauma among black people, even in Detroit, that a lot of people have nothing left to lose,” Singletary said. “They are so traumatized that they don’t care, because the virus is just one more bad thing.”
However, she added, “I feel we must participate in our healing.”
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