Story at a glance
- Black, Indigenous, Latino and other people of color are more likely to contract COVID-19 than white people.
- The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has been inequitable and more white Americans are being vaccinated in some states.
- Not all states have released racial data on vaccinations, making the inequity more difficult to correct.
White people are getting vaccinated at higher rates than Black and Latino Americans, according to a recent CNN analysis of data from 14 states that have made the information available. However, the reality could be even worse and public health experts won’t know until other states become more transparent about who is getting vaccinated.
Black, Indigenous and Latino people not only contract coronavirus at disproportionately higher rates, but are also more likely to be hospitalized and die, according to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Meanwhile, research shows health care workers of color are nearly twice as likely to get COVID-19.
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“My concern now is if we don’t vaccinate the population that’s highest-risk, we’re going to see even more disproportional deaths in Black and brown communities,” Fola May, a UCLA physician and health equity researcher, told reporters. “It breaks my heart.”
So why is this happening? Latinos are just as willing as white Americans to get vaccinated, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center in December, while Indigenous and Asian Americans are even more willing. And while fewer than half of Black Americans said they would definitely or probably get one if it was available that day, more recent surveys show Americans’ willingness to be inoculated has risen as more vaccines are made available.
“Those with time, computer systems and transportation are going to get vaccines more than other folks — that’s just the reality of it,” Mississippi state Health Officer Thomas Dobbs told NBC earlier this month, when the Trump administration moved to speed up the rate of distribution.
Those people are wealthier and whiter in many places, including the nation’s capital, where officials have not yet published race and ethnicity data. Lack of internet access, transportation and access to health care are all major barriers to vaccination.
“That’s what structural racism looks like,” Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told reporters. “Those groups were seen and not heard — nobody thought about it.”
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