www.theroot.com

By Michael Harriot

 

According to recent data, the disparity in vaccination rates among Black and white Americans has essentially closed.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), one of the best sources for medical statistics, published its weekly COVID survey data, revealing that for the week of Sept. 13-22, 70 percent of African Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Black vaccine rate is virtually identical to the 71 percent of white people who have been at least partially vaccinated. The Hispanic vaccination rate has surpassed both groups at 73 percent.

 

Graphic: Kaiser Family Foundation

 

 

Polling data is considered to be more reflective of vaccination rates because CDC data is only available for 60 percent of the country but KFF’s data isn’t an outlier. Pew Research’s latest numbers show 70 percent of African Americans are at least partially protected from COVID via the vaccine, with whites at 72 percent, Hispanics at 76 percent and Asian Americans at 94 percent vaccinated. The CDC’s National Immunization Survey found 73 percent of Black adults, 76 percent of white adults, and 78 percent of Hispanic adults are vaccinated.

The news was not a surprise. For more than a month, non-white Americans have been getting vaccinated at higher rates than whites, according to USA Today and CDC data. However, if you’ve been on social media or watched most Fox News coverage, you’ve probably heard how Black Americans were the most vaccine-hesitant group in America, which is understandable, except for one thing:

It was never true.

Many media outlets didn’t care enough to know that the difference in vaccination rates between African Americans and whites was a reflection of healthcare disparities, economics and—most of all—access. There are simply more health facilities in white neighborhoods. There are fewer doctors in Black and Hispanic rural communities. Because whites are more likely to be insured, while Black Americans are less likely to even have paid medical leave, it literally costs Black people more to see the doctor. But instead of focusing on accuracy, it’s easier to report that the racial vaccine gap was a reflection of vaccine hesitancy. Truth is hard.

Back in January, 14 percent of Blacks and whites told KFF definitely wouldn’t take the COVID vaccine. By May, only six percent of African Americans answered “definitely not” when asked if they would take the vaccine, while white minds lingered at 15 percent. Currently, 11 percent of Black people say they definitely won’t take the vaccine, compared to 14 percent of whites, virtually unchanged since the beginning of the vaccine rollout.

In fact, people who identify as Republicans are actually the most vaccine-hesitant demographic in America, with 23 percent saying that they “definitely won’t” take the vaccine, followed by white evangelicals, rural residents and white adults, according to KFF data. But there’s a very good reason why they refuse to get the vaccine and it has nothing to do with their health. Pew research reports that 65 percent of African Americans, 73 percent of Hispanics, 80 percent of Asians and 76 percent of Democrats are worried about unknowingly spreading the virus, while only 52 percent of whites and 38 percent of Republicans have the same concern.

See, it’s not just that they don’t care about science, facts or their health.

They don’t care about you.