Newswire: Black Americans are being vaccinated at far lower rates

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Black woman being vaccinated

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two new vaccines to combat the coronavirus, the initial concern was whether African Americans would accept vaccination.
The rollout of the medicine from Pfizer and Moderna featured heavy promotion.
High-profile African Americans like former President Barack Obama, National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) Coronavirus Task Force Member Dr. Ebony Hilton, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson received their shots publicly.
An African American nurse in New York earned distinction as the first person in the country to receive a vaccination, and Meharry Medical College President Dr. James Hildreth, a Black man, sat on the FDA board that approved the vaccines.
Now, concern has shifted from whether African Americans will accept the vaccine.
Many now wonder whether doses would be available to the Black community.
A new Kaiser Family Foundation report has revealed that African Americans are getting vaccinated at much lower rates than whites. The report, released on Saturday, Jan. 16, shows that in 16 U.S. states where the vaccine is available, white residents are being vaccinated by as much as three times higher than African Americans.
One example is Pennsylvania, where 1.2 percent of white residents had been vaccinated, compared with just 0.3 percent of African Americans in the Keystone State.
Kaiser Family Foundation researchers noted that vaccine distribution is supposed to align with healthcare and frontline workers’ demographics, presumably making the vaccine equally available to all races.
Some have hinted the lack of vaccine access is rooted in racism – not an unwillingness of minorities to get vaccinated.
Dr. Taison Bell, of the University of Virginia, told NBC News that he was “horrified to discover that members of environmental services — the janitorial staff — did not have access to hospital email. ”Hospital staff receives its vaccination information via email, Dr. Bell stated.
“That’s what structural racism looks like,” Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told NBC. “Those groups were seen and not heard — nobody thought about it.”
As of Jan. 25, the U.S. had surpassed more than 25 million total cases and 413,000 deaths due to the pandemic, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported.
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis, African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are dying from COVID-19 nearly three times the rate of white people. “With the country’s coronavirus pandemic continuing unabated as cases and deaths increase, and a more contagious variant of the virus spreads, there is a greater focus on vaccine distribution troubles,” Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman wrote.
The covid-19 vaccine distribution effort is in trouble, Altman demurred. According to federal data, only 15 million of the more than 40 million doses distributed nationwide have been given to people. “Hundreds of different distribution programs are being organized across states and counties for frontline health workers, residents of long-term care facilities, the elderly and others that states are prioritizing in different sequences,” Altman continued.
“The country needs a distribution strategy that our fragmented, multilayered healthcare system can effectively implement. This will require more federal direction, a simpler priority structure, and a different role for the states.”

ADPH recommends Alabamians consider stopping the use of electronic cigarettes and vape products

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) recommends that all consumers consider refraining from the use of electronic cigarette and vape products (i.e., vape pens, liquids, refill pods and cartridges) until national and state investigations into vaping-related deaths and illnesses are complete. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating a cluster of severe pulmonary disease among people who use e-cigarettes or vape products, with more than 800 cases of lung injury reported from 46 states and one U.S. territory. Two-thirds of cases are 18 – 34 years old, and 12 deaths have been confirmed so far in 10 states. As of September 25, there were 16 Alabama residents under investigation. Of the 16 reports, 2 cases have been ruled out; 2 have been identified as probable cases of lung disease associated with vaping. Alabama is currently not included in the national case numbers.
Those who choose to continue the use of e-cigarettes and vape products should not buy these products off the street or from unregulated sources. Consumers should avoid modifying or adding any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer. Consumers with nicotine addiction who have used e-cigarettes as a method to quit smoking should not return to the use of conventional cigarettes.
Patients have experienced symptoms that include cough, shortness of breath and fatigue, with symptoms growing worse over a period of days or weeks before admission to the hospital. Other symptoms may include fever, chest pain, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Most of the cases are among adolescents and young adults.
ADPH has requested that health care providers report any cases of suspected serious respiratory illness they treat among patients who use electronic cigarettes or other vaping devices. State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said, “The use of any tobacco product is unsafe. While this current outbreak is being investigated, the safest option is to refrain from using any e-cigarette or vape product. Furthermore, there is no situation in which these devices should be used by pregnant women or youths.”
Alabama law now prohibits the sale or transfer of vaping products or electronic nicotine delivery devices to minors. Free help is available for Alabama residents who are ready to kick the tobacco habit. The Alabama Tobacco Quitline number is 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or residents may visit quitnowalabama.comfor help.
The Quitline provides individualized coaching to help any type of smoker or tobacco user, including e-cigarettes and vape, to quit. In addition, the Quitline offers up to eight weeks of free nicotine patches to those medically eligible and enrolled in the program. Quitline coaching services are available seven days a week from 6 a.m. to midnight.
For additional information on electronic cigarettes and their health effects, visit For more information on quitting tobacco, please visit ADPH Tobacco Prevention and Control at