pregnant latinas

Health disparities: Why Pregnant Latinas are twice as likely to get COVID

According to a recent study from the Sutter Health Center for Health Systems Research, pregnant Latinas are at a greater risk for contracting the COVID-19 virus than white non-Hispanic women. 

The study tested 4,500 pregnant women who gave birth between October and December 2020 for antibodies and found Latinas were over twice as likely (2.4 times more) to be infected than white patients.

But what are the factors contributing to this disparity and how can we lower these numbers? 

Pregnant Latinas and COVID

One of the many factors contributing to the infection rate of pregnant Latinas is living and working conditions. In a report by the Economic Policy Institute, data showed that Black and Latinx communities have faced some of the most damaging health and economic effects during the pandemic. 

Many Latinx families are economically insecure, resulting in pressures to continue working in high-risk industries during the pandemic, little paid time off, and fewer options to work remotely from home. Additionally, Latinx workers were more likely to be employed in some of the hardest-hit industries such as hospitality, retail, transportation, and health care. 

Living conditions are also a contributing factor. Dr. Alice Pressman, research director of the Sutter Health Institute for Advancing Health Equity, said in a press call that when it came to living arrangements, “the Hispanic population was much more likely to self-report living in a household with more than five other members…[and] were also much more likely to report having been exposed or thinking that they had potentially been exposed to someone with known COVID-19.” 

Finally, one of the biggest contributing factors to the disproportionate rate of COVID-19 infection among pregnant Latinas is less accessible healthcare and vaccine misinformation about fertility and pregnancy.  

covid-19 vaccine

Photo by Hakan Nural on Unsplash

Vaccine hesitancy and misinformation in the Hispanic community 

According to a toolkit by the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative, the top concerns for Latinos regarding COVID-19 vaccines are: safety, cost, diversity in the clinical trials, and availability for undocumented people.

Many Latinx patients are hesitant to receive the vaccine due to misinformation, skepticism, and previous discrimination from healthcare professionals. Additionally, pregnant Latinas have refused or postponed the vaccine until after pregnancy because they worry the vaccine will have harmful effects on them and their babies. 

However, a growing body of research contradicts these beliefs and widespread myths. Not getting the vaccine during pregnancy poses a much greater health risk to the mother and baby, since the mother’s body is already weakened from the pregnancy alone. Contracting COVID-19 while pregnant would create more potential for complications and risks, and pregnancy is already linked to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. 

Vaccination against COVID-19 during pregnancy, on the other hand, has not been linked to birth complications, including premature delivery and low birth weight newborns, according to the CDC. 

Unfortunately, the myth that vaccines can harm reproductive health remains widespread, especially among Hispanics and communities of color. 

A CDC report showed that vaccination was lowest among Hispanic (11.9%) and non-Hispanic Black women (6.0%) and women aged 18–24 years (5.5%) and highest among non-Hispanic Asian women (24.7%) and women aged 35–49 years (22.7%).

To combat the rate of infection among pregnant Latinas, dispelling misinformation about vaccines during pregnancy is crucial. 

You might be interested: Meet Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, the Latina scientist who co-created “The World’s COVID-19 Vaccine”

Moving forward 

Moving forward, we need to support policies and programs that will promote health education, resources, and equitable access to healthcare for the Hispanic community. With more culturally relevant resources regarding vaccine safety during pregnancy, vaccine confidence can be improved among pregnant Latinas and in the community at large where low vaccination rates are still prevalent. 

One organization that is working to achieve this goal is Salud America, a national Latino-focused organization that creates culturally relevant and research-based stories, videos, and tools to inspire people to start and support healthy changes to policies, systems, and environments where Latino children and families can equitably live, learn, work, and play. 

Be sure you know the facts! #JuntosStopCovid

The organization has several programs dedicated to dispelling myths about the COVID-19 vaccine and promoting vaccine confidence in the Hispanic community. One program is the 

Salud America!’s Latino COVID-19 Vaccine “Change of Heart” Bilingual Storytelling Campaign. The campaign shares the stories of real Latinos who overcame misinformation, got the vaccine, reconnected with family, and are helping end the pandemic. 

Another campaign promoting vaccine education is the #JuntosStopCovid campaign which features bilingual, culturally relevant fact sheets, infographics, and video role model stories to encourage Latinos to change their public health behaviors, including getting the vaccine when available. 

We each can also work towards dispelling vaccine myths in our communities by sharing our own experiences, resources, and educational content so that we can reduce disparities such as this. Let’s all take action and do our part!

Meet Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, the Latina scientist who co-created “The World’s COVID-19 Vaccine”

A new COVID vaccine known as “The World’s COVID-19 Vaccine” was co-created by Latina scientist Maria Elena Bottazzi. The vaccine—officially named Corbevax—is patent-free and aims to bridge the gap between health inequity among underserved communities around the world. 

Maria Elena Bottazzi is a Honduran and Italian-born naturalized American microbiologist, currently Associate Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, as well as Distinguished Professor of Biology at Baylor University, Waco, Texas.

Corbevax was developed by Bottazzi alongside Dr. Peter Hotez and their team from Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development. The vaccine is based on recombinant protein, a technology that has been used for decades in drugs such as hepatitis B. 

Corbevax uses a small amount of virus proteins to activate the body’s immune response without making patients sick and is “a much cheaper process than the messenger RNA technology that Pfizer or Moderna used,” said Bottazzi. 

Peter Hotez, Maria Elene Bottazzi

Dr. Maria Elene Bottazzi (left) and Dr. Peter Hotez work with a colleague in the lab. (Photo source: Baylor College of Medicine)

In December, the drug was authorized for use in India with multiple phases of clinical trials determining that it is safe and well tolerated. Data shows that it is more than 90 percent effective against the original COVID-19 strain and more than 80 percent effective against the delta variant. 

Currently, inequality in the distribution of vaccines is a major concern worldwide and has led to many COVID-19 deaths. While 59 percent of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, less than 9 percent of residents in low-income countries have received a dose.

“Everyone talks about equity, but nobody does anything. That is why we created Corbevax, although we are a small team and it took us longer than the large laboratories,” said Bottazi in an NBCNews article. “But we knew that it would not be enough with the projects of the multinationals, if we take into account the first and second doses, plus booster and pediatric doses, we are still missing 9,000 million doses.” 

Bottazzi and her team have been working to create vaccines for neglected diseases for years. Over a decade ago, long before the COVID pandemic was even a thought, the team began researching coronaviruses and developing vaccines for coronaviruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS. 

Those decades of knowledge became immediately beneficial when the pandemic hit in early 2020. Since then they have used their ample knowledge to create a vaccine that is “free for everyone.” 

Maria Elena Bottazzi, Peter Hotez

Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D right, and Maria Elena Bottazzi, Ph.D, serve as the dean and associate dean, respectively, of the National School of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. (Photo: Terry Vine Photography / Texas Medical Center)

“Peter and I aspire to benefit people, which is why we created a vaccine for the poorest communities in the world. The team that we have built shares the same interest in promoting public health and, obviously, learning at the same time,” said Bottazzi.

And her work has certainly paid off. With the distribution of this vaccine, countless countries will be able to begin to bridge the health inequity gap. Dr. Bottazzi’s accomplishments received a high recognition earlier this month when she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Houston Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher. 

On February 1st, Congresswoman Fletcher nominated Dr. Bottazzi and Dr. Hotez, stating, “[Their] effort to develop the CORBEVAX vaccine is truly one of international cooperation and partnership to bring health, security, and peace around the world by creating a COVID-19 vaccine and making it available and accessible to all. It is a contribution that is of the greatest benefit to humankind.”

On her nomination, Dr. Bottazzi said, “The truth is that I was shocked, speechless. But we are very excited and grateful, because the simple fact that they have thought of us means that we are already winners.”

If chosen for the Prize, she would become the first Honduran to receive this award.

You might be interested: Puerto Rican neurotoxicologist Alexandra Colón-Rodríguez is promoting Latinas in STEM

covid 19 variant

What to know about COVID-19 Delta-variant infecting the young and partially vaccinated   

The Delta coronavirus variant, which was first identified in India, is a variant of the original virus that swept the globe last year, only now it has evolved to become more infectious. Currently, the Delta variant has not been found to be more dangerous or deadly, however it’s high rate of infection among young and partially vaccinated people is concerning. 

According to an article by Business Insider, the Delta variant has taken over the UK, accounting for 95% of infections. In the U.S. the variant currently accounts for more than 20% of cases and this number is likely to grow. 

New Delta-variant symptoms to watch for 

Unlike the original strand of the COVID-19 virus, the Delta-variant is exhibiting different, milder symptoms which may go unnoticed. Instead of the hallmarks of COVID-19 such as shortness of breath and loss of taste and smell, the most common symptoms of the new Delta strain are headaches, a runny nose, and sore throat—symptoms that could be easily confused with the common cold. 

It is unclear, however, if these milder symptoms mean the disease itself is growing milder, or if this is simply how the new variant presents in young, healthy people or people who have been partially vaccinated. 

The biggest issue right now is the rate of infection. According to data collected by epidemiologist Tim Spector, approximately 19,000 people in the UK catch COVID-19 every day, most of which are young, and not fully vaccinated. 

The new Delta-variant is reportedly twice as infectious as the original virus, with each infected person transmitting it to 6 others or more. 

Even more worrying is that another strain, known as Delta-Plus, has emerged as well. 

“Delta Plus has an extra mutation called K417N, which distinguishes it from the regular Delta variant. This mutation affects the spike protein, the part of the virus that attaches to the cells it infects,” CNN reports

This mutation brings not only the increase in transmissibility that comes with the standard Delta-variant, but also stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and a potential reduction in antibody response. 

So far, Delta-Plus has been reported in 11 countries, with the U.S. reporting the highest number of cases so far, with 83 cases as of last week, followed by the UK which reported 40 cases. Other affected countries include Canada, India, Japan, Nepal, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, and Turkey.

covid-19 vaccine

Photo by Hakan Nural on Unsplash

Will the vaccine ward off this new strain? 

While the Delta-variant has been reported in partially vaccinated people, fully vaccinated individuals are still largely protected. Currently, the U.S. is using data from the UK to predict how the Delta-variant might spread. 

In the UK, where about 94% of individuals over the age of 70 are fully vaccinated, death-rates and infection-rates were low. However, the Delta strain is spreading quickly among younger populations and kids. 

The biggest concern is low-vax communities. Many communities, particularly lower class and ethnic communities, have disproportionately been affected by the virus and had greater trouble accessing vaccines. Due to language barriers and digital divides, many have not been able to schedule appointments or access critical resources. 

On Twitter, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean at the Brown School of Public Health, shared a thread with data showing the past month’s surge of infection in the UK and how the U.S. is likely to follow in the coming weeks. 

You might be interested: Damaris Diaz shares pandemic stories and how COVID has impacted the Latino community

“In the UK, Delta became dominant and: Cases spiked 5X, Hospitalizations up 90%, Deaths rising albeit slowly so far, Despite having vaccinated more folks than US,” Dr. Ashish Jha wrote. “The UK experience suggests US vaccination level will not be enough to ward off Delta spike. Infection rises likely to become apparent over next few weeks as Delta becomes dominant. The spike won’t be uniform across the nation. Indeed, low vax communities are particularly at risk.” 

The coming weeks will show how the Delta-variant will affect the U.S. and countries around the globe. 

COVID-19 vaccine card

Everything you need to know about your COVID-19 vaccine card

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, providing proof of vaccination will likely be required by venues, establishments, and travel services going forward. Here’s what you need to know about your COVID-19 vaccine card. 

COVID-19 vaccine card

COVID-19 vaccine card, the new “passport.” (Image credit: Governor Jim Justice, PDM-owner, via Wikimedia Commons)

COVID-19 vaccine card: The new “passport” 

Many are beginning to call the COVID-19 vaccine cards vaccination “passports” as many venues and services are now requiring proof of vaccination for access and admittance to large gatherings. 

In New York, as the state reopens large venues and catered events at reduced capacity, proof of vaccination or recent negative test results will be required. Additionally, events with more than 100 people, such as weddings or parties, will also require proof of vaccination. 

With COVID-19 vaccine cards set to become another essential document, it’s important you keep it safe. 

What’s on the vaccine card and how to keep it safe? 

The COVID-19 vaccine card is issued to you upon your first vaccination and updated after your second dose. The card will typically contain the vaccine manufacturer, the dose numbers and the date and location each was administered. 

To keep the cards safe, many people have begun laminating them. Companies such as Staples, Office Depot, and OfficeMax are now offering free laminating services to those who are looking to laminate their vaccine card. Staples has provided the offer code 81450, and this offer currently does not have an end date. For Office Depot and OfficeMax, customers can use the offer code 52516714 through July 25.

While the vaccine card is an important document, officials have stated that it does not need to be on a person at all times, and should be kept safe like other important documents like your passport and social security card. Though replacing a lost or damaged vaccine card will be much easier than replacing other essential documents. 

COVID-19 vaccine card

COVID-19 vaccine cards should be kept safe like other essential documents. (Image credit: Ministry of Health, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

If you were vaccinated at a pharmacy your card can be easily replaced by returning to where you were vaccinated and requesting a new card. The pharmacy will then print out a new card from your records. 

Vaccinations are also tracked by state health departments, so if you have trouble retrieving a new card you can reach out to your state’s agency to get a replacement. 

Additionally, digital document options and apps are rapidly becoming available which will hopefully make sharing vaccination proof and status much quicker and hassle-free. 

New York is already ahead of the game as the first state to introduce a digital tool that allows people to easily show that they have either tested negative or been vaccinated, to gain entry into some events and venues. 

You might be interested: CDC releases new guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals

Until more states catch up, be sure to keep your card safe and make backups by taking a photo of your card, emailing the photo to yourself, or saving the photo somewhere secure.

Additional perks that come with your card 

In addition to the health benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, a number of companies and businesses are now offering perks as incentives for people to go out and get vaccinated. 

krispy kreme donut

Krispy Kreme is offering one free glazed doughnut per day for individuals who have been fully vaccinated. (Image credit: Willis Lam, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Flashing your proof of vaccine card will get you: 

  • one free glazed doughnut per day from Krispy Kreme
  • 10-cent beers at Cleveland’s Market Garden Brewery
  • free 44-ounce popcorn at Cleveland Cinemas
  • $5 in free arcade tokens at Up-Down, a Midwestern chain of bars featuring vintage arcade games
  • free or discounted rides from Uber for seniors, essential workers and others in countries across North America, Europe and Asia to help them get to vaccination centers 
  • free yogurt from Chobani at some vaccination sites 

And many more! So be sure to take a look at what your local businesses and companies may be offering after you have been vaccinated and put your COVID-19 vaccine card to good use.

CDC releases new guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals

The CDC has released new guidelines and recommendations for fully vaccinated people. The new CDC guidelines state that fully vaccinated individuals can safely visit other vaccinated people and small groups of unvaccinated people in some circumstances. 

Covid-19 vaccine,

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

“Fully vaccinated” is defined by the CDC as those who are two weeks past their second dose of the Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines or two weeks past a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC will continue to update its guidance as more information becomes available though currently there is growing evidence that suggests people who are vaccinated do not spread Covid-19. However, scientists are still trying to understand how long vaccine protection lasts.

“The level of precautions taken should be determined by the characteristics of the unvaccinated people, who remain unprotected against Covid-19,” the guidelines state.

The new CDC guidelines state fully vaccinated people can:

  • Visit other vaccinated people indoors without masks or physical distancing
  • Visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household without masks or physical distancing, if the unvaccinated people are at low risk for severe disease.
  • Skip quarantine and testing if exposed to someone who has Covid-19 but are asymptomatic, but should monitor for symptoms for 14 days
CDC guidelines

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

This means that vaccinated grandparents may finally feel comfortable visiting their unvaccinated grandchildren, especially if they’re local, and as long as none of the unvaccinated people in that household are at risk for severe Covid-19.

And two fully vaccinated individuals, such as you and a friend, may now finally have dinner together.

However, there are still some precautions that fully vaccinated people must take in certain scenarios. CDC guidelines state fully vaccinated people must:

  • Wear a mask and keep good physical distance around the unvaccinated who are at increased risk for severe Covid-19, or if the unvaccinated person has a household member who is at higher risk
  • Wear masks and physically distance when visiting unvaccinated people who are from multiple households.

You might be interested: ‘It’s Up To You’ Campaign to Educate Millions of Americans about COVID-19 Vaccines

Additionally, fully vaccinated people should continue basic safety precautions, including: wearing a well-fitted mask and keeping physical distance in public; avoiding medium- and large-sized crowds; avoiding poorly ventilated public spaces; washing hands frequently; and getting tested for Covid-19 if they feel sick.


“There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection, and therefore potentially less likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others,” said Tami Skoff, CDC epidemiologist on the Clinical Guidelines Team of the Vaccine Task Force.

Still, it is important that vaccinated individuals continue to practice safety precautions and distancing around vulnerable individuals such as older adults, pregnant women, and immuno-compromised individuals. The guidelines also discourage vaccinated individuals from gathering with more than one unvaccinated household. 

“According to the CDC recommendations, if unvaccinated persons from more than one household are participating in a visit, then these visits should continue to happen outside and everyone regardless of vaccination status should be physically distanced and wearing well-fitted masks,” said Skoff.

Additionally, even fully vaccinated people need to be careful when traveling, said Dr. Cynthia Ogden of CDC’s Covid emergency response team, and the CDC notes that its travel recommendations have not changed. 

“While we work to vaccinate more people, preventive measures such as pre- and post-travel testing and post-travel self quarantine, along with wearing well-fitted masks, will help us prevent the spread of Covid-19,” Ogden said.

“No vaccine is perfect. A small number of people could still get Covid-19 after getting fully vaccinated and they could spread the virus to unvaccinated people. We will be closely watching the trends in cases over the next month,” she said. “Until more is known and vaccine coverage increases, some preventive measures will continue to be necessary for all people, regardless of vaccination status.”

covid-19 vaccine

‘It’s Up To You’ Campaign to Educate Millions of Americans about COVID-19 Vaccines

Major brands, media companies, community-based organizations, faith leaders and other trusted messengers to extend reach of ‘It’s Up To You’ campaign message across all channels with a focus on Black and Hispanic communities, who have been hit hardest by the pandemic. 

The Ad Council and COVID Collaborative have revealed the platform for their COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative, “It’s Up To You.” Representing one of the largest public education efforts in U.S. history, more than 300 major brands, media companies, community-based organizations, faith leaders, medical experts and other trusted messengers are supporting the campaigns designed to reach distinct audiences. These partners include Adobe, Apple, Black Information Network, Facebook, Google/YouTube, iHeartMedia, NAACP, NBCUniversal, Pandora/SiriusXM/SoundCloud, Telemundo, UnidosUS, ViacomCBS and more.

covid-19 vaccine

Photo by Hakan Nural on Unsplash

“It’s Up to You” Campaign to educate about Covid-19 Vaccines

Created in close partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the campaigns urge audiences to visit ( in Spanish) to get the latest information about COVID-19 vaccines, with the ultimate goal of helping the public feel confident and prepared to get vaccinated once a vaccine is available to them.

“With the ‘It’s Up To You’ platform, we’re listening to America’s top questions, understanding their concerns and working to educate and empower people across the country – particularly communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic – so they can make an informed choice about vaccination for themselves and for their families,” said Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of the Ad Council. “Our extraordinary partners across the communications industry are uniquely positioned to amplify these critical messages at scale. Through this truly unprecedented effort, we can get back to the moments we all miss and save lives.”

According to Ad Council research, approximately 40% of the public have not yet made a firm decision to get vaccinated as soon as vaccines are available to them. Additionally, their research shows that Black and Hispanic Americans who are undecided are significantly less confident they have enough information to guide their decision about getting a COVID-19 vaccination, compared to those intending to get vaccinated. The data reveals that targeted efforts are needed to specifically  reach communities of color who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and where there is considerable distrust in the government and medical community and high hesitancy toward the vaccines. 

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Approximately three-quarters of consumers who are undecided say they want information to address their questions about the vaccines, even if vaccines are not yet available to them.

“Public education is a critical component of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic — it is a shared effort to empower people to protect themselves, especially those in disproportionately burdened populations,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky. “Just as we are taking action to address the inequities this pandemic laid bare, we need a concerted approach to bring an end to the pandemic and to leverage the lessons learned during COVID-19 to achieve optimal health for all.”

To reach vaccine hesitant individuals across the country, “It’s Up To You” is taking an empathetic approach that reaffirms that it’s understandable to have questions about the vaccines. “It’s Up To You” conveys that one of the best ways to get back to the moments and people we miss is by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Creative assets in English and Spanish will appear nationwide across broadcast TV, digital, radio and social media, including content developed by modern culture marketing agency Alma, which customized the creative platform to produce “De Ti Depende,” a campaign designed to resonate with Hispanic communities in the U.S. 

“This is not only the most important campaign of our generation, but it needs to be the largest too,” said PJ Pereira, Creative Chairman, Pereira O’Dell. “It had to be an idea that worked not only for the audience, but allowed for brands and publishers to make it theirs, too.”

Leading brands, platforms, and organizations

The initiative will collaborate with a wide range of organizations to inform the development and distribution of culturally resonant content for Black and Hispanic audiences. Providing valuable tools and resources, events, and point-of-care and point-of-purchase educational materials for communities of color, these partners include the Black Coalition Against COVID-19 (BCAC), NAACP, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association, National Urban League, UnidosUS, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) and others.

Leading brands, media companies and social platforms and services are developing custom content and donating media to extend the “It’s Up To You” campaign message, connecting their audiences with crucial and vetted information about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Some partners include:

— Apple is a Founding Partner of the COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative. As part of its commitment to health, Apple will help the Ad Council keep customers informed about the benefits of the vaccine through its services, including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple News, and more.

— Disney will leverage resources across a variety of its platforms (ABC, ESPN, Freeform, FX, Hulu, National Geographic) to support “It’s Up To You” PSAs.

— Google/YouTube, in addition to being a Founding Partner, is integrating the Ad Council’s vaccine campaign into their larger “Get the Facts” COVID-19 vaccine marketing efforts. Google/YouTube is also making concerted efforts to support the Ad Council’s industry movement, providing advertisers with bespoke support, insights & resources to scale their message using Google and YouTube platforms and tools.

— NBCUniversal and Telemundo are creating custom video and banner assets in both English and Spanish for support across the NBCUniversal ecosystem, also made available to other networks. NBCUniversal is also a Founding Partner of the Ad Council’s COVID-19 vaccine education initiative.

— Sesame Workshop will develop custom PSAs in English and Spanish for grownups and families, featuring their iconic characters.

— Spotify will produce custom audio PSAs and messaging points for podcast host reads to promote COVID-19 vaccine awareness and education, distributed across donated media on its free tier and integrated into podcasts on its platform.

— Twitter is developing a custom hash-emoji on behalf of the campaign and will also host and spotlight a live Q&A on their platform, featuring a medical expert to address the top COVID-19 vaccine questions facing their users.

Since the pandemic was declared in March 2020, the Ad Council has mobilized the industry to launch an unprecedented, multi-pronged communications effort to combat COVID-19. To date, the Ad Council’s COVID-19 efforts have resulted in over 47 billion impressions, $445 million in donated media value, and nearly 33 million visits to

COVID-19 vaccine

NYC data reports racial and ethnic disparities in distribution of COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 has revealed many of the racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare faced by people of color and ethnic groups. From suffering from higher disproportionate rates of infection and death, to disproportionately being more likely to end up in the hospital, communities of color and ethnic minority groups have been hit harder by the virus than white populations. Now we are seeing further disparities in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. 

COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine is here. But which groups are being prioritized? (Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)

Racial and ethnic disparities in distribution of COVID-19 vaccines

As the vaccine begins to roll out across various states, new data shows that there are already disparities among recipients. In New York, data revealed that while 24% of the city’s residents are Black, only 11% of Black residents received the COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, White residents have received a disproportionate share of vaccines. 

The city’s demographic data is still incomplete, with many vaccine recipients not reporting their race or ethnicity. Currently, the race of about 263,000 people who received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is not known. 

However, of nearly 300,000 city residents who received one dose and whose race was recorded, about 48 percent were white, 15% were Latino, 15 percent were Asian and 11% were Black. Latino and Black residents were underrepresented: The city’s population is roughly 29% Latino and 24% Black.

The disparities were even more striking among city residents aged 65 and up: Only 9% of the roughly 125,000 older New Yorkers who received the COVID-19 vaccine were Black.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was frustrated that New Yorkers in communities of color were not getting vaccinated. 

“Clearly we do see a profound disparity that needs to be addressed aggressively and creatively,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference.

racial and ethnic disparities

Only 11% of NYC’s nearly 300,000 vaccine recipients were Black, data reveals. (Photo by CDC on Unsplash)

One key factor is the racial and ethnic disparities is the complex scheduling system which many in underserved communities struggle to navigate. Residents have complained about the complicated process for scheduling appointments, long wait times on phones, and sudden appointment cancellations. Younger people have been helping their older relatives navigate the system, but the issue still needs to be addressed from the top especially since data reveals that white New Yorkers are navigating the vaccination system more easily than other populations. This signals that there is an accessibility issue, preventing certain communities from navigating the system. 

Mr. de Blasio has since pledged to address the problem by improving the appointment scheduling system and increasing outreach in more languages to make the system accessible to diverse communities. 

Still many elected officials have come out to criticize and blame the Mayor for failing to reach the city’s Black and Latino residents. 

Brooklyn borough president, Eric Adams, deemed the city’s response to the virus as having “turned into our Katrina” — a reference to the 2005 hurricane that hit New Orleans and overwhelmingly devastated Black residents.

“We know who is most at risk and who is suffering the most — and they are mostly Black and brown,” he said. “They have been abandoned and they are dying because of it. That must end today.”

Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate, said the racial and ethnic disparities shown in the data was “a scathing indictment of how broken the system is.”

NYC vaccination sites prioritizing out-of-city residents over local communities

In addition to the accessibility and outreach issues, many of the city’s vaccinations have been going to people who live outside of the city. 

It’s been reported that at least 94,000 people who live outside the city have received the COVID-19 vaccine in New York. The mayor has defended this saying that many of those vaccinated work in the city. However, the racial divide among out-of-city vaccine recipients is even greater: 59% of recipients were white while only 7% were Black. 

racial and ethnic disparities

Racial disparities among out-of-city vaccine recipients is even greater: 59% of recipients were white while only 7% were Black. (Photo by CDC on Unsplash)

One vaccination site was recently called out in a report by The City for prioritizing outsiders over the community’s local population where over 70% of residents are Latino. The Armory Vaccination Center in Washington Heights has since agreed to prioritize residents from the local community and give new vaccines to New Yorkers only. 

Commenting on this inequity, Mayor Blasio said, “If a site is in a community, particularly a community hard hit by COVID, it should be all about reaching out to that community and bringing people in.”

Mark Levine, a city councilman who chairs the Council’s health committee, has called for several measures to close what he called the “vaccine equity gap,” including giving residents of local ZIP codes scheduling priority in communities of color.

“We need to take action now to fix yet another egregious case of inequity in this pandemic,” Mr. Levine said.

The city’s public advocate, Jumaane Williams, and comptroller Scott Stringer, have also called for critical changes to be made, calling the vaccine roll-out “almost criminal” and a “national embarrassment.” 

They are calling for Mayor Blasio to stop vaccinating people who live outside the city, to fix the confusing scheduling system, and provide paid time off for essential workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

You might be interested: Recent survey data reveal the effects of COVID-19 on women’s careers

Disparities across states and dwindling supplies

New York City is not the only city facing racial disparities in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. In New Jersey, about 48% of vaccine recipients were white, and only 3% were Black, despite the state’s Black population being 15%, according to state data. In Chicago, similar numbers were reported: only 15% of vaccine recipients were Black white 53% were white.

In addition to the racial disparities preventing the vaccine from reaching all demographics equally, vaccine supplies are also dwindling. 

In New York City, about 600,000 people have received a first dose of the vaccine since mid-December. Mayor Blasio has repeatedly said that the city is running out of doses and cannot accelerate the rollout without a greater supply. On Sunday, the city had only about 53,000 first doses left.

Currently there are more than 150 million people — almost half the U.S. population —eligible to be vaccinated. Each state determines who goes first, though, and currently the nation’s 21 million healthcare workers, three million residents in long-term care facilities, and high risk residents with medical conditions are top priority. 

Adults in the general population are at the back of the line and distribution issues will continue to push back eligibility unless federal and state health officials can clear up bottlenecks in distribution. If supply and distribution issues are remedied, everyone 16 and older may be eligible to receive the vaccine as early as this spring. 

To stay up-to-date and for more information on COVID-19 vaccine policies in your area, visit your state’s health website.