Disparities in COVID Vaccine Distribution

The reasons why are minorities less likely to get vaccinated

White Americans are much more likely than black and Hispanic Americans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine because of the systems of vaccine distribution and the lack of minority advocacy and awareness in the vaccine roll-out. According to a January 7 CNN study of 14 states, the white population had received 2.3-2.6 times more vaccines per 100 people than their black and Hispanic populations. Vaccination rates are still low: as of February 16th, 2021, only about 11.9 percent of the US population had received the first shot and 4.5 percent had received the follow-up shot. As more and more vaccines are rolled out, blacks and ethnic minorities, who have historically not received the same care as whites, should be targeted, so we can equitably vaccinate everyone.

This collection of bar graphs shows that Black and Latino Americans are not being vaccinated at the same rates as whites.

Vaccines are distributed to minorities at lower rates due to the far-reaching impact of economic instability. Vaccine deserts––without pharmacies or grocery stores, two of the major distribution centers––will continue to impede minorities from accessing vaccines. Oftentimes, people living in these communities do not have a car or other transportation to get a vaccine. Another large barrier between the black community and the vaccine is distrust of the medical community. Distrust of the vaccine has significantly contributed to the lack of minority vaccinations despite Congress’ $900 billion relief package that funnels $2.8 billion towards vaccinations for minority communities. Although minorities make up 52% of all long-term healthcare workers, frontline workers often cannot take time off work to get a vaccine. Nonetheless, these restrictions that some face must be taken into consideration, and the government must work with the medical community to make vaccines available at hours when frontline workers are not at their jobs.

If any singular group should be receiving the COVID vaccines at higher rates, it should be the worst-affected populations: blacks and Latinos are dying of Covid-19 at a rate three times that of whites and are hospitalized at a rate four times higher. Vaccinating vulnerable minority communities at the same rates as white communities would not only save more lives but also curb the spread of the virus in the most efficient way possible. The release and distribution of the vaccine have been all but optimal. Many vaccines have not yet been administered: about 22.9% of distributed vaccines were unused as of February 16th, 2021. If the government adopts a distribution system that targets vaccine deserts and hard-hit minority communities, the death rates of the pandemic would drop, and vaccinations would reach the most vulnerable populations without waste. What we must learn from this pandemic is that those who need the vaccine the most, minority communities, will not receive it without extra effort to create vaccination centers, in low-income areas that are open during non-work hours and to build trust in blacks with the medical community. It will take a concentrated effort to get vaccines distributed to minority and low-income communities, but it is possible to right the wrongs of the current vaccination rates in the US.

– Oscar Capraro

Image Sources

  1. https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/26/us/vaccination-disparities-rollout/index.html