Home Health & Education Black families should prioritize protection from COVID-19 for young children

Black families should prioritize protection from COVID-19 for young children

by PRIDE Newsdesk
Black children ages 5-11 received fewer vaccines and boosters than children in other communities.

As families send children back to classrooms and campuses, Black children ages 5-11 have received fewer vaccines and boosters than children in other communities, according to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). 

In addition, Black adults in the U.S. have received fewer vaccinations than Asian, White, and Hispanic/Latino adults, the CDC and KFF have reported. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Data Tracker, as of September 14, 2022, 43.3% of the Black population was fully vaccinated. This uptake is the lowest among all races/ethnicities.

“We realize that the vaccination rate for Blacks remains much lower than the majority population in the nation,” said Dr. Randall Morgan, president/CEO of the W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute. “We’re working hard to encourage everyone to not only get vaccinated but to be up to date with their boosters and to make sure that their children of all ages are vaccinated and safe.”

When taking a closer look, Black individuals have historically faced healthcare inequities in the United States and Black communities continue to have barriers to healthcare. CDC data shows that Black Americans are equally as likely to contract COVID as are non-Hispanic White Americans; however, they are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized as a result and nearly twice as likely to die from it (CDC, 2022).

“Simply providing the vaccine in community locations was not enough to drive Black Americans to the site. Other strategies are necessary to increase engagement and decision-making around the virus itself and ways to attack it that include vaccination and other preventive measures,” said Dr. Joan Prince, research consultant for CMRignite. 

Social epidemiologists and public health experts have identified a variety of social determinants of health that put people of color at greater risk for COVID-19, including having underlying health conditions, having less access to health care, and residing in highly populated areas in cities with air pollution.

“When America gets a cold, the Black community gets pneumonia,” said Dr. Prince. “Yes, there is a cold, there is pneumonia and now there is COVID-19. Once again, those that can least entertain another health epidemic are the most adversely affected. These are not just musings. Just look at the data.”

In terms of numbers:

  • There were 146,108 Black lives lost due to COVID-19 in the U.S. as of August 6, 2022, according to APM Research Lab. 
  • There is a disproportionate rate of hospitalizations and deaths between Black individuals and their White counterparts due to COVID-19.
  • In 2021, Black children were 2.7 times more likely to be hospitalized than White children.
  • According to CDC’s weekly tracker on vaccine demographics, only 46.2% of Black Americans ages five years and older who are eligible for a booster dose have received one booster as of September 14, 2022, compared to 59.8% of White Americans ages five and older who are eligible for a booster.

In an effort to address low vaccination rates and misinformation in the Black community, barriers to health care must continue to be broken. Recently, the following strategies helped increase vaccine confidence and improve vaccination rates in several Black communities:

  • Developing and deploying culturally linked and culturally specific partnerships in communities
  • Empowering trusted messengers
  • Authentic community outreach and engagement
  • Hosting community-focused events in Black neighborhoods

Culturally linked partnerships, trusted messengers, and community outreach have been proven to spark urgency in Black communities to prioritize their protection against COVID.

The Stay Well Health Fair and Vaccine events were designed to bring health-related resources to Black communities across the country. The W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute has partnered with Black sororities and fraternities, such as The Divine Nine, local health agencies, and community-based organizations in select cities to continue to educate Black communities while assisting with making vaccine resources more accessible.

These fairs feature local trusted Black health care professionals in panel discussions on the continued impact of COVID-19, the vaccines, and the emerging variants and sub-variants. A myriad of free resources have also been made available during these fairs, including COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, shingles vaccines, flu vaccines, health screenings, and well-living information.

From January to March 2022, 35% chose to get vaccinated. To date, the Stay Well events have been attended by more than 5,000 people, with more than 1,900 deciding to get vaccinated.

For more information on COVID vaccines and health resources, visit <www.staywellevent.org> or the Stay Well Community Health Fairs Facebook page.

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