The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that Hispanic individuals are 2.5 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than white patients. Black individuals are nearly twice as likely to show positive results. A very recent study saw similar numbers: “Pacific Islander, Latino, Indigenous and Black Americans all have a COVID-19 death rate of double or more that of White and Asian Americans,” says the APM Research Lab.
The infection was significantly more likely to be severe for these groups, too, and the death rate is about twice as high.
Because of these alarming statistics, National Minority Health Awareness Month for 2021 is focusing on vaccination in minority communities.
National Minority Health Awareness Month
National Minority Health Awareness Month began in 1915, when Booker T. Washington established a special week of health awareness for African Americans. In 2002, Congress declared April National Minority Health Awareness Month.
It’s been more than a century, but there are still health disparities in America.
Those disparities are showing up in our experience of COVID-19. Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, some ethnic groups have seen worse outcomes than others.
Social health factors
Why is COVID-19 more dangerous in some communities than others?
One reason is higher levels of chronic disease in those communities. Black Americans are 77% more likely to have diabetes than white Americans, for example. Hispanic Americans are 66% more likely to have diabetes. These may be in part the result of social factors like access to fresh foods, safe opportunities to exercise, and quality health care.
Another reason is that Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to live in less affluent circumstances. Researchers find that this means they are less likely to be able to work from home, more likely to live in crowded conditions that make it hard to maintain social distance, and more likely to use public transportation. This means that Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 than white Americans.
At the same time, more white people are being vaccinated. Recent data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that about 19% of white Americans have been vaccinated, compared with 9% of Hispanic individuals and 11% of Black Americans.
While you might have heard that Black people are hesitant to get vaccinations, the statisticians at FiveThirtyEight found that access seems to be more of an issue than reluctance to get vaccinations. Online vaccination signups can be harder for families who don’t have internet access at home, and vaccine hubs are often in communities with less ethnic diversity.
Whatever our ethnic background may be, we can all do our part to get #VaccineReady this month.
If you haven’t yet gotten your COVID-19 vaccine, make sure that you are ready when your turn comes.
If you’re fully vaccinated, you might be able to help others get and keep their appointments. Can you help someone figure out how to sign up online or give someone a ride to a vaccination facility?
We can also all help by making sure that we share accurate information about COVID-19 and about COVID-19 vaccinations.
Check your facts before you share, or make sure your information comes from a reliable source — like MANA.