47ºF

Big concern of vaccine rollout after numbers show disparities when it comes to race, data shows

HOUSTON – A big concern of the vaccine rollout has been making sure vaccines are distributed fairly, but numbers show disparities when it comes to race, a KPRC 2 analysis of local data showed.

“We trying to understand what’s driving this,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

In the meantime, Dr. Hotez said his efforts have included outreach to dispel myths and advocate for greater access to the COVID-19 vaccine in communities of color.

“I’m trying to reach out to as many African-American radio stations and news outlets as I can to stress the importance of getting vaccinated,” Dr. Hotez said.

Vaccination rates have been low in communities of color, according to local data reviewed on Friday.

Harris County

Data shows 229,859 people have received at least one dose, which is 6.4% of the total population of people over 16 years old.

Data shows 42,102 people are fully vaccinated, which is 1.2% of the total population of people over 16 years old.

Percentage of total vaccinations:

  • Asian: 9%
  • Black: 7.5%
  • Hispanic: 7.8%
  • White: 33.7%
  • Other: 10.4%
  • Unknown: 31.6%

Fort Bend County

Data shows 36,368 people have received at least one dose, which is 5.8% of the total population of people over 16 years old.

Data shows 6,949 people have received both doses, which is 1.1% of the total population of people over 16 years old.

Percentage of total vaccinations:

  • Asian: 20.4%
  • Black: 10.2%
  • Hispanic: 3.3%
  • White: 23.7%
  • Other: 12.8%
  • Unknown: 29.5%

Montgomery County

Data shows 16,827 people have received at least one dose, which is 3.6% of the total population of people over 16 years old.

Data shows 2,385 people have received both doses, which is .005% of the total population of people over 16 years old.

Percentage of total vaccinations:

  • Asian: 4.6%
  • Black: 3.2%
  • Hispanic: 4.5%
  • White: 55.8%
  • Other: 3.6%
  • Unknown: 28.2%

Brazoria County

Data shows 16,129 people have received at least one dose, which is 5.5% of the total population of people over 16 years old.

Data shows 3,762 people have received both doses, which is 1.3% of the total population of people over 16-years-old.

Percentage of total vaccinations:

  • Asian: 16.4%
  • Black: 10.3%
  • Hispanic: 4.5%
  • White: 28.9%
  • Other: 10.3%
  • Unknown: 29.7%

Galveston County

Data shows 19,916 people have received at least one dose, which is 7.5of the total population of people over 16-years-old.

Data shows 4,362 people have received both doses, which is 1.6% of the total population over 16-years-old.

Percentage of total vaccinations:

  • Asian: 38.6%
  • Black: 6%
  • Hispanic: 2.3%
  • White: 20.6%
  • Other: 13.2%
  • Unknown: 19.2%

The rates reflect a national trend, but figuring out why that’s the case isn’t easy. 

For starters, health disparities are more prevalent within communities of color, and those pre-existing conditions have proven dire when examining the pandemic’s impact.

Moreover, Dr. Hotez said while the vaccine rollout has been slow, outreach to communities of color has been, as well.

“We know among the African-American community the hospitalization rates and death rates are far higher than the group that the CDC calls non-Hispanic whites,” Dr. Hotez said.

Those dying are younger, too.

“Roughly a third of the deaths in African-American and Hispanic communities are under the age of 65. The people who are dying are men and women in their 40s, 50s, and early 60s, relatively young fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters who are losing their lives,” Dr. Hotez said.

The latter speaks vaccination’s importance, Dr. Hotez said, but trust remains another one of the challenges at hand.

State Sen. Borris Miles, the highest-ranking Democratic member of the State Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, said the question of trust long has been a concern with the Black community – a valid one.

“African-Americans in this country have the historical right to doubt and question our government as it relates to vaccines and medical issues. We have that right. But in this particular case, there are no health statistics, there have been no stats that say in this particular case dealing with COVID-19 that we should not be taking this vaccine,” Sen. Miles said.

Miles said access to equitable healthcare is yet another concern in communities of color — and that speaks to the problem – but he also said there needs to be more time for additional doses of vaccinations to be distributed throughout the area.

Dr. Hotez agrees on the access front and adds underrepresented communities are less likely to be located among grocery stores, pharmacies, overall sound healthcare.

“Some of the African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods, some of the low income neighborhoods – those are pharmacy deserts,” Dr. Hotez said.

“We’ve been talking for years about how it’s hard to get high quality food and grocery store deserts in low income neighborhoods, also pharmacy deserts too,” he pressed.

Both Dr. Hotez and Sen. Miles said the region needs additional distribution sites -- and they need to be positioned in underserved communities.

“Relying on the pharmacy chains and the hospital chains alone to do this it’s not going to work,” Hotez said.