Tue. May 24th, 2022


After targeted campaigns last fall helped narrow a racial divide in U.S. vaccination rates, that gap has reopened for reinforcement shots.

Advocates say mistrust in public health systems, access problems and staff shortages have prevented black and Hispanic residents from receiving boosters in the same ratio as their white counterparts.

The inequalities are significant as black and Hispanic populations died at excessively higher rates than whites from Covid-19, and officials worked hard to promote the vaccine in those communities. Health officials have worked with religious leaders and community organizations to address the vaccine and make it more accessible.

Eleven states plus Washington DC track amplifier receivers by race and ethnicity. In those places, incentives for white people (as part of the fully vaccinated population) were among the highest, while rates for black and Hispanic populations lagged behind.

In Illinois, for example, more than half of fully vaccinated white residents received their booster doses by Jan. 19, compared with 38 percent of black residents and 33 percent of Hispanics. The U.S. white population is also skewed older, meaning more white residents have been recommended to receive boosters earlier.

The gap questions whether booster deployment campaigns reach some of the most vulnerable populations as cases of Omicron, the new variant of the virus, increase.

“When we see inequalities in primary series administration, we know it’s going to have a drip effect on the proportion of the population that gets a boost,” said Joe Coyle, director of Michigan’s Office of Infectious Disease Prevention. . “There is, of course, a cascade effect.”

White residents received out of proportion the original doses of the vaccine when the rollout began last spring. Limited vaccine supply and complex online scheduling systems have made shots less accessible in low-income communities of color, which has also been pronounced hesitation about the vaccine. In May, only 56 percent of black adults and 57 percent of Hispanic adults said they received at least one dose, compared with 65 percent of white adults, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

By September, Marcella Nunez-Smith, head of Joe Biden’s Covid-19 Equity Task Force, cited survey data showing roughly equal percentages of white, black and Hispanic adults reporting receiving at least one dose of the vaccine, saying the numbers were “very, very encouraging”.

But then Omicron caused record highs of infections and led the CDC to recommend an additional dose of vaccine.

Omicron also burned staff shortages in care facilities across the country that have forced to reduce much of the previously established outreach work, according to Monica Schoch-Spana, a medical anthropologist at Johns Hopkins University who also runs a research coalition, Community Vax, which studies black and Spanish communities. .

“There’s a return to the focus on more centralized clinics, instead of meeting people where they are in the community in places like the barber shops that vaccine clinics have offered in the past,” Schoch-Spana said.

She added: “The scarce resource is now staff. There are fewer health workers to staff clinics, where it is not about large numbers, it is about targeted populations and smaller numbers, but with a significant impact on public health. ”

It is also difficult to consistently track the uptake of scratch shot by racial groups. The CDC does not report the race or ethnicity of booster shot recipients under 65, as it does with initial vaccine doses.

Among those aged 65 and over, federal data shows that white people make up a slightly larger proportion of booster dose recipients in that age group relative to their share of the fully vaccinated population, while black and Hispanics make up a slightly smaller share.

The gaps are bigger at the state level.

In Michigan, there is a gap of more than 15 points along racial lines, with 52 percent of fully vaccinated white residents receiving the booster dose as of Jan. 18, compared with 37.3 percent of fully vaccinated black residents and 33.6 percent of fully vaccinated vaccinated Spanish residents. The differences are greatest among young people.

Recordings proposal the same pattern nationwide. Among the age group 30 to 39, 42 percent of fully vaccinated white residents between 30 and 39 received the booster dose, compared with 21 percent of black residents and 28 percent of Hispanics.

It often does not take much to convince fully vaccinated patients to get a booster shot, says Brittani James, who practices at a medical clinic that serves mainly black residents on Chicago’s Southside. The challenge, she said, is to make sure they know they are eligible to receive one and know where to get it. Three out of ten black and Hispanic adults are unsure or unaware that they need a booster, a recording found.

“When the CDC finally decided to make that switch and[recommend boosters for everybody over 18]. . . Who knows how well it was communicated? ” says William Parker, a medical professor at the University of Chicago.

Céline Gounder, an epidemiologist who served on the Biden administration’s Covid 19 transition team advisory panel, said high booster admission rates are a good sign among the elderly because they are the demographic that has benefited most from boosters. has.

However, Gounder also pointed to data showing that white and higher-income, educated people were one of the most likely to receive boosters.

“People who get boosters while setting aside the older demographics are largely people who are relatively at lower risk than others,” she said. “This means that your return in terms of actual impact on hospitalizations and deaths will be less than when you made sure you reached those more vulnerable populations.”

Reaching out to those populations is unlikely to resume until the Omicron wave subsides, Schoch-Spana fears.

“We are in some ways returning to the early days,” Schoch-Spana said. “Dis déjà vu.”

Additional Reporting by Caitlin Gilbert



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