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Report: Vaccinations fewer for Hispanic, Black people in Washington

Leaders with the state Department of Health say there are inequities in vaccine distribution based on race and ethnicity. According to a new report, Hispanic, Black and multiracial people have gotten vaccinated at low rates compared to their representation in the population.

Paj Nandi is director of community relations and equity for the state Department of Health. He says one reason for the low rates in those groups is what's called "vaccine hesitancy." So the Department of Health is partnering with community groups to address fears about the safety of the vaccines.

“A great example is that one of our contractors right now – Black Lens in Spokane – is organizing a radio show to address vaccine hesitancy with the Black community by incorporating trusted leaders from the community,” Nandi said.

The percentage of Black and Hispanic people who have received one dose as well as the percentage who are fully vaccinated is lower than their representation in the state population, the report's findings show.

The percentage of fully vaccinated people who are Hispanic, for example, is currently 5.9%, which is lower than the 13.2% Hispanic representation in the state population, according to the report's findings.

Black people make up 2.7% of people who are fully vaccinated, which is lower than 3.9% Black representation in population of Washington. Multiracial groups are also underrepresented compared to the overall state's population, the report said.

The report also shows American Indian or Alaska Natives comprise a slightly larger proportion of vaccinated people compared to their representation in the population, both among people who have received at least one dose and those who are fully vaccinated. Asians are slightly overrepresented among people who are fully vaccinated, according to the report.

Nandi says the Department of Health is also focused on distributing information about the vaccine in 36 languages. He adds that the department wants to prioritize allocation of vaccine doses to providers that serve the communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

“These data are crucial to understanding how we must balance the need to vaccinate as many Washingtonians as quickly as possible while also promoting equity in the process,” Dr. Umair A. Shah, secretary of Health, said in a news release. “While we have been focusing on both throughout, we must all do more to address these COVID-19 vaccine inequities and related access barriers.”

Shah said the department is updating strategies meant to reduce the inequities. Some of them include prioritizing allocation and support to providers who effectively serve disproportionately impacted communities, fostering collaboration opportunities, supporting a trauma-informed approach to vaccine conversations and ensuring communications and outreach efforts are culturally and linguistically appropriate and accessible.


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In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.