Racial Disparity in Vaccinations Is ‘Really Troubling,' Mass. Medical Official Says

Only 2.6% of coronavirus vaccinations so far have gone to Black residents, with 2.8% going to Asians and 3.3% to Hispanics, according to the latest report in Massachusetts

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The overall coronavirus vaccination numbers in Massachusetts leave a lot to be desired, but viewed along racial lines, a major issue becomes clear.

The latest report from the state shows white residents have gotten nearly 36% of the vaccinations. Just under 20% have gone to those who identify as multi-racial. Then, the numbers plummet: 3.3% for Hispanics, 2.8% for Asians and 2.6% for Black residents.

"It's really troubling," said Carlene Pavlos of the Massachusetts Public Health Association.

"We're trying to get these vaccines into arms as quickly as possible," said Michael Curry of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. "Unfortunately, they're going into the arms that are not closest to the disease, and many of them are Black and brown and are dying at higher rates, and it's disturbing."

Those numbers might go up once Phase 2 of the vaccination plan kicks in, but Curry says many people in those communities are suspicious of the vaccine.

Dr. Monica Bharel, the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, says people need to understand the vaccine is safe and effective.

"I understand that trust is important, and having individuals who are trusted in the community share this message is critical for us, as well as making sure that we have sites that are equitably distributed across the commonwealth," Bharel said.

Pavlos says that is crucial to ending the pandemic.

"If we are not making sure that communities that have been hardest hit, especially communities of color, have access to the vaccine, then we are really failing the public and failing public health," Pavlos said.

Bharel also points out that demand for the vaccine outstrips supply in the state right now, and she expects things will change once the supply increases.

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