African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities in Massachusetts were responsible for 60% of COVID-19 infections in the state — but they make up only one-Third of vaccinations, study shows
- Minority communities in Massachusetts make up a majority of COVID-19 cases, but a small proportion of total vaccinations, new study finds
- White people received more than 60% of Covid vaccines, despite 40% of the total number of cases
- Some lower-income minority communities have been found to be especially behind in vaccine rollouts
- The racial divide in vaccine access has long been debated, though recent data indicates it is closing across the country
Despite making up the majority of COVID-19 cases, minority communities in Massachusetts have less access to vaccines, a new study shows.
Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University, both in the Boston, Massachusetts area, came together to examine vaccination and case rates in various communities across the state.
They found that some areas with larger minority populations than average, such as Chelsea and East Boston, were more vulnerable to the virus due to low vaccination coverage compared to higher infections.
In total, minority communities account for about 60 percent of total Covid cases in the state from January 2020 to June 2021, but only 30 percent of total vaccinations.
White Bay Staters are more likely to have received the COVID-19 vaccine, but less likely to contract the virus than minorities in the state, a new study finds (above)
Communities of lower socioeconomic status were found to have much lower vaccination rates compared to the COVID-19 risk in their communities compared to higher-income areas in Massachusetts
Researchers, who published their findings in JAMA Health Forum on Friday, looked at 6.7 million Massachusetts residents in 293 communities.
They analyzed COVID-19 testing and vaccination data from January 29, 2020 to July 24, 2021.
The team calculated a vaccine-to-infection (VIR) ratio for each community, showing an area’s vaccination coverage relative to the total case and transmission rate of Covid.
The researchers also used statistical analysis to find differences between cases and vaccinations across racial and socioeconomic barriers.
They found that Asians, African Americans, Hispanics and mixed race people in Massachusetts accounted for about 60 percent of COVID-19 cases, with white residents accounting for 40 percent of the cases.
Massachusetts in more than 80 percent white, data of the US Census shows.
Despite making up a disproportionately low percentage of Covid cases, white Bay Staters make up for a majority of vaccinations.
Data from the survey shows that white residents of the state have received more than 60 percent of the shots so far.
“In this cohort study, analysis of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination indicated structural disparity in vaccine distribution with lower vaccine coverage for infection risk in communities with increased socioeconomic vulnerability and greater proportions of Black and Latinx individuals,” the researchers wrote.
Racial differences in vaccine distribution have been a concern since the vaccines became widely available in the spring of 2021.
Many white communities in America have more resources, which makes it easier for them to distribute the vaccines than their counterparts.
The Harvard University team found that communities of higher socioeconomic status tended to have better vaccination rates relative to their rate of Covid transmission.
Researchers also note that the Bay State strategy could have exacerbated these problems.
“Massachusetts prioritized large hospital systems and mass vaccination sites rather than strategies to reduce structural racism recommended by others,” they wrote.
While people living in high-income areas were better off with the vaccine rollout, the disparity between economic demographics was not as great as that between racial groups.
More recent data from the Pew Research Center suggests that this gap may have closed as black adults in America now report the same vaccination coverage as white adults.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still reports a holeHowever, with 30 percent of black Americans fully vaccinated compared to 38 percent of white people.
Socioeconomic differences in vaccination rates related to Covid cases were not as pronounced as racial differences, the researchers found.
However, those living in higher socioeconomic areas were found to be better off, accounting for more than 25 percent of vaccinations and less than 20 percent of cases.