Who gets vaccinated has changed as vaccinations become more available

Political ideology may be the main driver of getting a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States and it runs along racial lines, with racial and ethnic minorities now most likely to roll up their sleeves, according to new research from a University of York. teacher.

This is a dramatic departure from the early days when COVID-19 vaccines were first available, and a lack of supply meant that people in predominantly black and Latino areas of the United States were less likely to be vaccinated. Today, counties that are predominantly white people are slow to get vaccinated.

It’s a shift that goes against the belief that racial minorities shy away from vaccinations because of their hesitation and distrust of the medical establishment.

“Although many believed that a history of medical abuse made black communities skeptical of vaccines, the main reason for the decline in vaccination rates against COVID-19 was the unequal access to vaccines”, says Assistant Professor Cary Wu of York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies. .

“Recent research suggests that vaccine hesitancy is not the root cause of declining vaccine use among racial minorities. In fact, survey data shows that Asian Americans are the group most willing to get vaccinated in the United States, and black people have become more willing over time. »

Today, the main factors that are ready to get vaccinated against COVID-19 correspond more closely to political trends. Counties with large communities of Republicans — more likely to be white people living in more conservative suburban and rural areas — have lower vaccination rates than those with a high percentage of Democrats. Black Americans are more likely to hold liberal Democratic ideologies, while white Democrats often live in racially diverse urban areas.

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Wu looked at weekly COVID-19 vaccination number data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey, which provides the racial makeup of more than 3,000 US counties, for his research. . It compared vaccination rates for counties with the highest compositions of Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites, and analyzed how those rates were changing as the pandemic continued.

At first, a clear pattern of lower vaccination rates in socioeconomically disadvantaged black and Hispanic counties and higher rates in wealthier Asian and white counties emerged. But as time passed and access to vaccines increased in all regions, although more slowly and unevenly in disadvantaged counties, this trend began to change.

“If you were to ask me now what is the biggest predictor of who will be vaccinated, I would say political ideology,” Wu said.

Conservatives are more wary of science and government, which seems to fuel their reluctance to get vaccinated. This means that counties with higher percentages of white people are seeing their vaccination rates slow, while counties with a higher composition of racial minorities, often liberal leanings, are increasingly getting vaccinated.

“Socio-economic disadvantage played a large role in who got vaccinated initially, but political ideology is now a major factor underlying vaccination rates in counties with varying levels of vaccine concentration. different racial groups,” he says. “Even so, it is necessary to pay attention to the particular vulnerability that members of different racial groups experience during the pandemic. As new vaccines become available, it will be important to ensure their equitable distribution as this should lead to more widespread adoption.

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Recognizing and addressing patterns and barriers specific to different racial groups is essential to achieving effective and equitable responses and to reducing racial disparities in future epidemics.

The article, “Racial concentration and dynamics of COVID-19 vaccination in the United States,” was published in the September issue of the journal MHS—Population Health.