Vaccine Gaps: Who is Getting Left Behind?

Vaccine Gaps: Who is Getting Left Behind?
Vaccine ImageThe Covid-19 vaccine has been in circulation for over two months now. As health care workers and the elderly receive their first and second doses, the rest of the population looks on, cautiously awaiting for their age group and/or profession to be next in line. The government has also had time to look into the facts and figures of the vaccine; they now want to know how many minorities have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The CDC has reported that 42.8 million adults in the U.S. have received their first shot and 17.9 million people have been fully vaccinated. On the surface, these numbers seem to be good indications of a diversely-distributed vaccine; however, the percentages of vaccinations across racial lines are inconsistent.

A study spanning 26 states, which have started to keep a record of the ethnicities of their vaccinated, has reported that the vaccination rate of White people is three times as much as Hispanic people and twice as much as Black people (Kaiser Family Foundation 2021). Individual rates for states vary, but these numbers are the average.

Researchers haven’t been the only people to notice the disparity; in a town hall meeting with President Biden on Feb. 17, the following question was asked by an audience member: “Considering COVID-19 and its significant impact on black Americans, especially here in Milwaukee, and thus the exacerbation of our racial disparities in healthcare, we have seen less than 3 percent of blacks and less than 5 percent of Hispanics, given the total number of vaccines that have been administered to this point. Is this a priority for the Biden administration? And how will the disparities be addressed?” (The White House 2021).

President Biden responded with an explanation as to why there are vaccination gaps among races. “Number one,” he says, “There is a concern about getting the vaccine, whether it’s available or not.” He goes on to explain that the availability of vaccines in inner-city and rural districts, and whether or not people have access to the resources they need to register for the vaccine are the main obstacles of vaccine distribution.

According to President Biden, his administration is currently tackling this issue by: providing vaccines to over 6,000 independent and corporate owned pharmacies, setting up mobile vaccine sites, and funding public education to spread knowledge of the vaccine and where to find it. The option of giving vaccines in sports arenas, a neutral location with large amounts of space, has also been explored.

Of course, large drives to disperse the vaccine would be in vain if it encouraged people who would not come into contact otherwise to gather together. Which is why most institutions distributing the vaccine schedule individual appointments. This is often done through health departments and pharmacy websites - the president believes this is discouraging individuals from inner-cities and rural areas to register.

Exactly why individuals from these areas are less likely to register is technically unknown, they may have personal reasons. However, lack of resources like reliable internet, computers, or time are considered to be attributing factors. It is also likely that elderly generations are unfamiliar with online services and are less inclined to either find a computer to use, or figure out how their own works. This is sad considering that the general populations of people who need the vaccine the most, may not have the resources to do so.

So, how will everyone get the vaccine if it is not equally available to all? Let’s start with the younger generation and how they can help. Reaching out to grandparents to walk them through the process would be extremely easy and tremendously helpful. One might even earn a hug or, if lucky, a dollar. If families are keeping distance between themselves and the elderly members of their family, this can be done over the phone. It might be more difficult, but family health is worth the few minutes of tedious explanation.

As for the people located outside of the vaccine's accessible reach, the government should deal with that. It seems to be on their radar, which is encouraging, and hopefully over the next few months the imbalance between the race/ethnicity percentages will start to even.

Nambi Ndugga, Olivia Pham, and Feb 2021. “Latest Data on COVID-19 Vaccinations Race/Ethnicity.” KFF, 18 Feb. 2021,
“Remarks by President Biden in a CNN Town Hall with Anderson Cooper.” The White House, The United States Government, 17 Feb. 2021,

By: Addie Hedges