Through the persistent efforts of community organizers, health officials and lawmakers, more Americans are being vaccinated each and every day. While vaccination rates continue to rise across the country, Black Americans are still receiving the vaccine at far lower levels than other groups. According to Kaiser Health, Black Americans are vaccinated at a rate that is 11% less than their white neighbors and 7% less than their Latinx counterparts. While hesitancy and skepticism are often listed as the reason for this disparity, it may not be that simple.
“The experience of Black Americans within the U.S. health care system has been extremely troubled to say the least,” West Health Policy Center Director Sean Dickson told FiveThirtyEight.
“But we don’t want to rely on the narrative that Black people aren’t willing to get the vaccine."
One reason for the lack of vaccinated Black Americans is the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine sites. In many parts of the country, mass vaccination sites are placed in predominantly white communities rather than Black and Hispanic communities. For example, a study from NPR found nine counties across six states in the southeast where Black residents had to travel significantly farther to get to a vaccination site when compared to their white counterparts.
Another reason for the lack of vaccinated Black Americans could be the method in which many were asked to sign up for appointments In dozens of states, the primary way to sign up for vaccination appointments is through the internet. However, a 2018 study from The Free Press found that "nearly half of all people in the country without home-internet access were people of color."
Adding to the list of reasons why it may be more difficult for Black Americans to access COVID-19 vaccination sites, Black Americans disproportionately work front-line jobs. As a result, it becomes harder for those workers to request time off in order to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
In recent weeks, health officials, businesses and lawmakers have made strides to remedy some of these issues. States like Ohio have offered financial incentives to get citizens vaccinated and states like New York have opened 24/7 vaccination sites. Moreover, businesses like Uber have offered free transportation to vaccination sites. Still, these recent improvements do not remedy months upon months of disproportionate vaccination distribution. Now, medical professionals are racing to get more Black Americans vaccinated before they succumb to the deadly virus.
"Every day we do not reach a person or a community is a day in which there is a preventable Covid case that happens and a preventable Covid death in these communities," Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo told CNN.
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