African Americans are more likely to travel further to get vaccinated against COVID-19

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Black Americans in some parts of the country will have to travel further than their white counterparts to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a new white paper suggests, highlighting the importance of implementing mobile vaccination clinics to reach the people they face. transport barriers. of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and West Health Policy Center mapped places where people are likely to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, including community pharmacies, hospital outpatient departments, federally rated health centers and rural health clinics, and estimated driving distances for a synthetic population sample of Americans to their nearest facility.

In 69 counties, including 23 in urban areas, black residents were at increased risk of having to drive more than a mile to the nearest potential vaccination site, the study found. These counties, which numbered about 26.3 million people in total, were most concentrated in Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia. “My inference is that we know that African Americans have historically fewer resources [and] greater health disparities, ”Lucas Berenbrok, assistant professor at Pitt College of Pharmacy and first author of the study, told MarketWatch. “So it‘s not that surprising that in some places, there are more barriers for them. Driving distance is one of those. “African Americans, along with Latinos and Native Americans, also contracted COVID-19, were hospitalized with the disease, and died from it at higher rates than white Americans show. data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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“‘You are just increasing the likelihood that someone will not be vaccinated.’ ”- Lucas Berenbrok, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, on the distance some people will have to travel

“The vaccine is very important to black Americans, and we must make it easier for them to get it, not harder,” Berenbrok said. Urban areas showing disparities included the counties covering Atlanta, Ga .; Dallas, Houston and Fort Worth, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; New Orleans, Louisiana and New York. Meanwhile, in 94 counties, black residents had a significantly higher risk of having to drive more than 10 miles to their closest facilities, the study found. A 10-mile driving distance may not be a big deal for someone who owns a car and can drive to a pharmacy parking lot, but a five-mile driving distance for a person of color, or even a white American without access to a car, it could be onerous, Berenbrok said. Black households are less likely than other groups to have access to a vehicle, the data shows. Public health professionals are also working to address questions about vaccines in black communities. Part of that hesitation stems from mistrust of the medical establishment, the result of a history of medical racism and experimentation with people of color. In a January Kaiser Family Foundation survey, black adults (43%) were among the groups most likely to say they want to “wait and see” how the vaccine works for other people, though that number dropped from 52% a month before. African-American Vaccination Concerns Top concerns among black people who have not yet been vaccinated include unknown long-term side effects of vaccines (86%), the possibility of serious side effects (75%), and concerns about that vaccines are not as safe as they are said to be (75%). “When you put that extra barrier away and travel to get a vaccine, in addition to things that already prevent people from getting vaccinated, you’re just increasing the likelihood that someone will not get vaccinated,” Berenbrok said. The researchers, who launched an open access mapping tool in December to identify areas and populations that may have less access to COVID-19 vaccines, suggested that mobile vaccination units and home-based vaccination services from pharmacies communities could play a key role in lowering the transportation barrier. President Biden‘s COVID-19 vaccination plan includes the goal of “implementing mobile vaccination clinics in the hardest-to-reach communities and supporting those facing challenges accessing vaccination sites, including people living in urban areas and neglected rural areas “. Given the wide geographic variation in access to vaccine locations at the county level, officials must follow “a data-driven approach” to meet potential limitations of existing local infrastructure, the document said. “We really hope that the authorities will use the data and the map to help reach people who previously couldn’t,” Berenbrok added. Some initial reports, including a Kaiser Health News analysis last month of data from 16 state health departments that reported the race and ethnicity of vaccine recipients, suggest that the proportion of black Americans vaccinated is less than the proportion of white people vaccinated. A CDC report released in early February found that race and ethnicity data were “unknown or not reported” in nearly half (48%) of people who received COVID-19 vaccines. Of the 52% whose race and ethnicity data were available, 60% were White, nearly 12% were Hispanic or Latino, 6% were Asian, 5% were Black, and 2% were American Indian or Alaska Native ( AI / AN). These findings, the CDC said, “underscore the need for more comprehensive reporting of race and ethnicity data at the provider and jurisdictional level to ensure rapid detection and response to potential disparities in COVID-19 vaccine administration. “. “Because black, AI / AN, or Hispanic people have been found to have more severe COVID-19 results than whites, careful monitoring of vaccination by race / ethnicity is critical,” the report said.