Vaccination rates are continuing to slow in the United States and there’s simply no denying that reality. Despite the President threatening to send people door to door to jab you, significant numbers of people remain either hesitant or flatly opposed to rolling up their sleeves. This has the CDC continuing to struggle with the data and look for ways to improve the rates. Some of that data has turned out to tell a story that’s a bit different than the one you’re generally hearing on cable news, however. You’ve probably been told that “white Republican males” are the chief drivers of low vaccination rates, and they certainly show up in the mix. But the overall demographic data shows that whites, in general, are volunteering to be vaccinated at a far brisker pace than either Black or Hispanic citizens, though whites are lagging well behind Asians who are leading the pack. Overall in the United States, Asians lead with 62% being fully vaccinated. Whites are at 47%, Hispanics have reached 39 percent, and Blacks are still stuck at a 34 percent vaccination rate. (KFF.org)
As of July 4, the country was just shy of reaching President Biden’s goal of having at least 70% of adults vaccinated with one or more doses of the COVD-19 vaccine, with 67% of the population 18 years of age or older receiving at least one dose according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While this represents a marked achievement and is leading to steep declines in COVID-19 cases and deaths, vaccination coverage—and the protections provided by it—remains uneven across the country. In particular, Black and Hispanic people have had persistently lower rates of vaccination compared to their White counterparts across most states. These lower vaccination rates leave Black and Hispanic people at increased risk for infection, illness, and death, particularly as new variants, like the Delta variant, spread.
Reaching high vaccination rates across individuals and communities will be key for achieving broad protection through a vaccine, mitigating the disproportionate impacts of the virus for people of color, and preventing widening racial health disparities going forward. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated that vaccine equity is an important goal and defined equity as preferential access and administration to those who have been most affected by COVID-19.
Aren’t we reaching the point where we have to stop pretending that minority communities are somehow being left behind and are unable to get vaccinated? While there still may be a few pockets around the country where the vaccine distribution plans were so completely botched that people have had a hard time finding a pod, there certainly aren’t many. We’ve seen repeated reports of large stockpiles of doses nearing their expiration dates.
Just as an experiment, after reading about these figures over the weekend I called the two CVS outlets closest to me to ask about an appointment for a vaccination for an unnamed “family member.” I asked how they could make an appointment and how long they should expect to wait. Both of them told me to have the person (over the age of 12) just come straight down at any time during operating hours. No appointment is needed. They would have someone waiting to vaccinate them. For free.
Uber and Lyft are still giving free rides to anyone going to and from a vaccination appointment if you can’t find your own way there. If you still can’t figure it out, there’s a hotline. Call 1-800-232-0233, the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline. They’ll find you a place to get a shot and they’ll do it in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages. And yes, in many areas, if you absolutely can’t make your way to the closest location, they will send someone to your home to do it. You just have to ask.
With all of that in mind, we need to admit that there are a lot of people who simply don’t intend to get the vaccine. And some of the greatest resistance on a per capita basis is being seen in Black and Hispanic communities. (Not that you would know that from watching cable news.)
Here’s one more interesting demographic figure. The Delta variant has much of the country highly concerned and worried that we might be backsliding. But do you know who isn’t nearly as worried? The unvaccinated are the least worried about Delta. (Politico)
Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated Americans, the groups most vulnerable to Covid, are the least concerned about the more contagious Delta variant, according to a CBS News poll.
While 48 percent of “not fully/not vaccinated” respondents in the poll released Sunday said they were concerned about the Delta variant, 72 percent of fully vaccinated Americans are worried.
I’m not even going to hazard a guess as to what that particular figure means. It would require too much mind-reading of the respondents. But I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that those most prone to worry are the ones who are fixated on the spread of the virus the most, and likely the ones who were quickest to get a shot. Those who are simply “getting on with their lives” as best they can probably didn’t register as much concern over Delta.
Before closing, let’s take a brief stroll down memory lane and ask where all of this hesitancy started. Here’s a quick reminder in the form of a tweet from Daily KOS back in September of last year. At that point, Operation Warp Speed was cruising toward the finish line and Donald Trump was getting credit for it. That didn’t sit well with the Biden campaign or their supporters.
Kamala Harris wouldn't trust a Trump vaccine, and neither should anyone else https://t.co/d0CPdp7hwW
— Daily Kos (@dailykos) September 6, 2020
But ever since Joe Biden won, both he and Harris have been more than happy to be the top two cheerleaders of the vaccines. Funny how much things can change in just a few months, eh?