Distrust in Black communities and lack of assistance from the United States (US) government is slowing America’s COVID-19 vaccine drive to Black and Hispanic people.
A study by Kaiser Family Foundation on March 1 found that although U.S. communities of colour were at a higher risk for severe or fatal COVID-19 infections, white people have been vaccinated at twice the rate of Blacks and two-and-a-half times the rate of Hispanics.
Reuters reports that grassroot organisers in Black and Hispanic communities have struggled to secure private or public funding for outreach efforts to promote vaccination. Advocates focused on the issue say philanthropists are juggling competing priorities and tend to view such crisis response as largely the government’s job. The federal government, under the new administration of Democratic President Joe Biden, is only now getting started on serious efforts to promote vaccination in minority communities.
Advocates say that a nationally coordinated marketing campaign with critical efforts at personal outreach by respected local influencers in these communities are needed which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Biden administration announced on Monday that it would spend $250 million to “encourage COVID-19 safety and vaccination among underserved populations,” which could include minority communities but also other vulnerable groups, such as rural residents. Localities will have to apply for that money; grants would finance 30 urban projects and 43 rural projects, according to an administration news release.
The administration also plans to use money from its proposed COVID-19 stimulus package to promote vaccination, in minority communities and others, but the specifics of that effort remain unclear. The White House plans to partner with local officials and nonprofits to overcome government distrust, said Dr. Cameron Webb, the White House’s senior policy adviser for COVID-19 equity.