Racial Disparities Persist in Vaccinations, CDC Data Shows
Easing Fears in Hispanic Communities
Some states are reporting higher vaccination rates among Hispanics than white and Black residents, which Bibbins-Domingo said fits with surveys showing high enthusiasm for vaccination among Hispanics. It also indicates that some of the reported barriers may have been addressed more effectively in those states, she said.
Paul Berry, chair of the Virginia Latino Advisory Board, partly attributes Virginia’s success to targeted outreach efforts. The state and certain counties also increased Spanish-language resources to boost sign-ups.
Connecting with every community cannot be an afterthought, said Diego Abente, president and CEO of St. Louis’ Casa de Salud, a health care provider focused on immigrant communities. Community buy-in, effective social media use and language programming from the start have been essential, he said. Hispanics have a higher vaccination rate than whites in Missouri.
But nationally, a dearth of transportation options, an inability to take off from work to get a vaccine, and concerns about documentation and privacy have dampened uptake among Hispanics, according to experts.
“To me it’s more about access to health care,” Berry said. “If you don’t live close to health care, you’re just going to shrug it off immediately. ‘I can’t get that vaccination. I’m going to miss work.’”
To reduce fear among Idaho agricultural workers that may be part of mixed-immigration status families, public health workers emphasized messaging that documentation wouldn’t be required, said Monica Schoch-Spana, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. She has helped lead its CommuniVax project seeking to boost uptake among Black, Hispanic and Indigenous communities.
It’s also important to engage trusted institutions to administer vaccines, Schoch-Spana said: “Is it a familiar place, does it feel safe, and is it easy to get to?”
Federal efforts have placed sites in underserved neighborhoods. About 60% of shots at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s vaccination sites and at community health centers were given to people of color, federal health officials said this week.
Incomplete Data Collection
Race or ethnicity information is still missing for nearly 69 million vaccinated people — or 44% — in the CDC data, despite vows by federal officials to improve outdated systems to better inform their response.