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COVID-19 Vaccination Rates Still Lagging for Blacks, Hispanics

New report shows that despite narrowing gap, minorities still at greater risk for the coronavirus

Larry Green (R) receives a Band-Aid from registered nurse Teresa Frey after he received his second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Lincoln Memorial Congregational Church UCC, a predominantly Black church, on March 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Pop-Up COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Held At Predominantly Black Church In Los Angeles
Mario Tamo/Getty Images News

While efforts to get more Blacks and Hispanics inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccines are bearing some fruit, a new Kaiser Family Foundation report finds that continued lower vaccination rates put these minority groups at a greater risk for the coronavirus, particularly as new variants spread.

The good news is “recent trends suggest a narrowing of racial gaps in vaccinations at the national level, particularly for Hispanic people, who have received a larger share of vaccinations compared to their share of the total population (32 percent vs. 17 percent),” the report says. The KFF analysis is based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of June 28 from the 47 states that track COVID-19 vaccinations by race and ethnicity. The CDC says this data represents race/ethnicity for 57 percent of people who have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

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"For the first time,” KFF researchers say, “the share of recent vaccinations received by Black people also surpassed their share of the total population (13 percent vs. 12 percent)."

Administration officials have targeted much of their recent effort to reach unvaccinated Americans to minorities, including enlisting religious, civil rights and other community groups. President Joe Biden had set a goal of 70 percent of all adults getting at least one shot by July 4. CDC data show that as of June 30, 66.5 percent of adults age 18 and older had received at least one shot. At the same time, the data show that 87.9 percent of adults age 65 and older have gotten at least one vaccine dose. The president has acknowledged that the 70 percent goal will not be reached for several weeks beyond Independence Day.

Race/Ethnicity of People Receiving a COVID-19 Vaccine in the U.S. as of June 28, 2021

COVID-19 vaccination rates by ethnicity
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Other key findings:

The rate of vaccinations among Blacks and Hispanics lags behind their share of cases in most states. For example, in California Hispanics have gotten 29 percent of the vaccinations while they account for 63 percent of cases and 48 percent of deaths. Hispanics represent 40 percent of the total population in the state.

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Whites received a higher share of vaccinations compared with their share of cases in most states. For example, in Colorado, whites received 78 percent of COVID-19 vaccinations, while they comprise 68 percent of the population.

Between March 1 and June 28, the share of vaccinations going to Hispanics increased in all the states that report ethnic data. For example, during that period the share of vaccinations going to Blacks increased from 26 percent to 42 percent in the District of Columbia and from 25 percent to 36 percent in Mississippi.

"These data,” the report says, “highlight the continued importance of efforts to prioritize equity and address gaps in vaccination both geographically and across racial, ethnic groups."

Dena Bunis covers Medicare, health care, health policy and Congress. She also writes the Medicare Made Easy column for the AARP Bulletin. An award-winning journalist, Bunis spent decades working for metropolitan daily newspapers, including as Washington bureau chief for the Orange County Register and as a health policy and workplace writer for Newsday.

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