As of Monday, less than 25 percent of Black Americans have received their first COVID-19 shot. Health experts tell Politico that "ingrained" government skepticism, lack of transportation, inability to take time off, and deficient community outreach could explain the lag. Meanwhile, vaccination rates among other minority groups, like Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans, continue to rise following government outreach.
According to the Biden administration and public health experts, it's not that minority populations are "openly hostile" to vaccines, it's that they need "reassurance and prodding," Politico writes. Octavio Martinez, a member of the White House's COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, said the government's equity-focused efforts will require "relationship building and it's going to take a little longer." He added, "We have a systemic issue here."
In Washington, D.C., Black Americans constitute nearly 8 in 10 new cases and close to 90 percent of deaths since May 1. White House efforts that have succeeded elsewhere have yet to gain "similar traction" in Black communities, per Politico.
"It's going to take a lot of effort from a lot of different places," said Reed Tuckson, founder of the Black Coalition Against COVID-19. Tuckson has partnered with the White House on a program to get Black-owned barber shops and beauty salons to promote vaccines and host vaccination sites.
Advocates are hopeful efforts like the barbershop initiative can close the racial vaccination gap and push the nation closer to having administered at least one shot to 70 percent of adults, President Biden's July 4 goal.
Osaremen Okolo, a policy adviser on the White House COVID-19 response team, said all of the administration's equity initiatives are "intended to uplift the Black community," writes Politico. She added, "We are not leaving anyone behind." Read more at Politico.