The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released a set of recommendations on how to prioritize vaccine distribution among recipients who are not members of the healthcare community and, according to the Daily Mail, suggests vaccinating minority communities who have been hit hard by the virus over primarily white communities.
The CDC has also issued a “social vulnerability index” that allows states to priorities individuals for the vaccine based on figures like minority status and language spoken.
Minority communities — specifically black and Hispanic communities — have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and are far more likely to be hospitalized with the virus and three times more likely to die from its effects according to studies out over the summer tracking how the virus spreads in select areas of the United States.
There are a number of reasons for the disparity, including less access to quality health care in minority communities and city centers, more pre-existing health conditions that directly impact how patients are able to recover from the virus, and a higher percentage of community members who work in service-oriented industries considered “essential” during the pandemic.
In states like New York, where nursing and long-term care facilities were ordered to accept recovering COVID-19 patients regardless of whether they remained contagious, researchers at the University of Minnesota found, minority long-term residents and care staff “suffered the most amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Homes with a significant number of black and Latino residents have been twice as likely to be hit by the coronavirus as those where the population is overwhelmingly white,” The New York Times added.
The CDC has, consequently, “advised [states] to consider ethnic minorities as a critical and vulnerable group in their vaccine distribution plans,” per the Daily Mail.
“[Half of the nation’s states have outlined plans that now prioritize black, Hispanic, and indigenous residents over white people in some way, as the vaccine rollout begins,” the outlet reported Sunday. “According to our analysis, 25 states have committed to a focus on racial and ethnic communities as they decided which groups should be prioritized in receiving a coronavirus vaccine dose.”
Those states include “New Mexico, where collaboration with Native Americans is being prioritized; California, which has committed to ensuring black and Hispanic people have greater access to the vaccine; and Oregon, where health officials have said that ethnic minorities with have ‘equitable access’ to the shot.”
A number of states are also partnering with health care providers to create a plan to distribute the vaccine to underprivileged and minority communities.
“The CDC has also issued guidance on its Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) that uses 15 U.S. census variables to help local officials identify communities that may need support,” the Daily Mail notes. “It is being used in states such as Michigan where minority status and language spoken could be taken into consideration when deciding how high a priority you are for receiving a vaccine.”
For now, vaccines are being distributed largely to health care workers on the front lines of combatting the coronavirus pandemic. The elderly and residents of long-term care facilities are next in line. Most healthy Americans will not receive their COVID-19 vaccine until early spring.