Racial differences in childhood vaccinations are difficult to track
The launch of the COVID-19 vaccine for elementary school-age children exposed another blind spot in the country’s response to pandemic inequality: the health system has released almost no data on the racial breakdown of youth vaccination, and community leaders worry that black and Latino children will be left behind.
Only a few states have published COVID-19 vaccination data by race and age, and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not compile race classifications.
Despite the lack of conclusive data, public health officials and medical professionals have noticed the differences and have been in contact with communities of color to overcome the hesitation of vaccines. This includes entering schools, sending messages in other languages, deploying mobile vaccine devices, and emphasizing to skeptical parents that injections are safe and effective.
Public health leaders believe that the racial gap is caused by work and traffic barriers, as well as lingering reluctance and information gaps. Parents without transportation will find it harder to get their children to and from the dating location. Those who do not have flexible working hours or paid family leave may delay vaccinating their children because if their children have to miss school due to minor side effects, they will not be able to stay at home.
In the few places where children’s COVID-19 vaccines are reported by race, the breakdown varies.
In Michigan, Connecticut, and Washington, DC, the vaccination rate of white children is much higher than that of black children. But in New York City, white children between the ages of 13 and 17 are vaccinated at a lower rate than black, Latino, and Asian children.
In Connecticut, the vaccination rate for children between 12 and 17 years old in many wealthy towns that are predominantly white is more than 80%.
In Hartford, 39% of children between 12 and 17 years of age are fully vaccinated. According to state data updated in November, 88% of children of the same age are vaccinated across the entire city line in the suburbs of West Hartford.
80% of Hartford’s school system is black and Latino. 73% of West Hartford schools are white.
On Monday morning, parents who sent their children to the diverse Hartford Elementary School got a glimpse of the various perspectives surrounding children’s COVID-19 vaccination. More than 75% of the school’s enrollment is Latino, black and Asian.
Some people expressed distrust of vaccines and no plans to vaccinate their children. The others are completely on board. A father was skeptical at first, but said that the school’s communication had convinced him of the benefits of vaccinating students, including ending the interference with face-to-face learning.
Ed Brown said his 9-year-old son will be vaccinated because the boy’s mother feels deeply about it, although he still has some reservations. Brown said that one of the results of his son being vaccinated was that he would vaccinate himself.
“I won’t give my son something that I don’t know is safe,” Black Brown said.
Another parent, Zachary Colon, said she decided not to vaccinate her child.
“I didn’t vaccinate my son,” she said. “I read that it was approved by the FDA soon. I’m afraid they don’t know much about it.”
Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, the head of Hartford School, said that the low vaccination rate among her students means that more students will end up out of school.
If vaccinated students come into contact with an infected person, they can come to school as long as they show no symptoms. Students who have not been vaccinated must test negative to return immediately.
“This may become another obstacle for some of our families. Some of our families, for various reasons, they have not been tested, so they have to wait 7 to 10 days. So absolutely, it has to keep students at home,” she said .
In Washington, the lingering reluctance of the black community is reflected in the low vaccination rate of black adolescents. The latest data provided by the District of Columbia Department of Health shows that the full vaccination rate for black children aged 12 to 15 is just over half that of white children: 29% and 54%.
In a recent campaign to promote vaccination of 5-year-old children, Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, the director of the Ministry of Health, admitted that despite months of public campaigning in the country’s capital, it is still difficult to overcome reluctance.
“People must want to be vaccinated,” she said. “This is not always a question of access. It is a question of choice.”
In Seattle, the Brown Children’s Clinic in Odessa began to run mobile clinics to provide family vaccinations and provide information in multiple languages ??to cover families who may not be able to vaccinate their children. About 40% of the clinic’s patients are black, 30% speak a language other than English, and 70% receive Medicaid.
The Chicago Department of Public Health plans to expand its home vaccination program to 5 years and older starting this week. Both the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital and Loyola Medical Center west of Chicago plan to send mobile pediatric vaccination units to underserved communities in the coming days.
The White House has made health equity a top priority, and its coronavirus task force said last week that the country has closed the racial gap between the total population of 194 million fully vaccinated. The Biden administration also stated that it will spend nearly $800 million to support organizations that seek to expand confidence in vaccines in communities of people of color and low-income Americans.
But federal, state, and local systems for tracking public health data are still limited and underfunded, including data that track racial differences in childhood vaccines, said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
Benjamin said: “We did not invest in a data system that is absolutely necessary for public health.” “This is a fundamental failure of this system.”
Samantha Artiga, director of the Racial Equality and Health Policy Program at the Caesars Family Foundation, said that without extensive data on who was injected, it is difficult to know what differences may exist.
“Data is the key to fully understanding and understanding the differences,” Artiga said. “They can be used to focus energy and resources, and then measure the progress in solving these problems over time.”