Tue, 13 Apr 2021

WASHINGTON DC - To boost vaccination rates among minorities, particularly Black and brown Americans, senior Biden administration officials say the initial deliveries of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine were expected from Tuesday and would be closely monitored for equitable distribution.

"Even though we know the data are not complete, we do see early patterns that suggest Black and brown Americans are largely getting vaccinated at rates lower than the representation in the general population," said one of the officials, giving no specific data on the disparities.

However, KFF, a health policy and research organization, discovered that compared to their share of the population, people of color are getting smaller numbers of vaccinations. In Alabama, for instance, Black people account for 27% of the population and 31% of the deaths from COVID-19, but only 17% of the vaccinations.

The U.S. officials said they respected the apprehensions of some Black Americans and stressed that efforts had been made to ensure that Black and brown people were properly represented at every stage of the vaccine process.

Areas with large minority populations will see some 400 community vaccination centers and mobile units set up to reach more people, they said.

Urging those eligible to be vaccinated as soon as possible to effectively control the pandemic, one of the officials said, "It is critical for people to understand the safeguards that are in place around this clinical research, but also the diversity and representation at the level of the scientist, the policymakers and those who are reviewing these data, as well as the clinical trial participants."

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, requiring only one dose, may be easier to distribute, as it does not require storage in a freezer. However, federal officials said all three vaccines should be made available evenly across communities throughout the country.

(File photo. Credit Francisco Venncio | Unsplash)

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