VaxMap 2.0: Counties where Black residents are significantly more likely than White residents to live >1 mile from a COVID-19 vaccination facility. (Inmaculada Hernandez, University of Pittsburgh)
UPMC —Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and West Health Policy Center found that in many parts of the country, Black people are less likely than White people to live near a pharmacy, clinic, hospital or health center that can administer COVID-19 vaccines.
In 69 counties, home to 26 million people, Black residents are significantly more likely than Whites to live more than a mile from the closest vaccination facility. These counties are especially concentrated in Georgia, Missouri, Louisiana, Virginia, Texas and Alabama. And a third of them are located in urban areas, including Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Detroit, New Orleans and New York City.
Troublingly, nearly three-quarters of the counties with these racial disparities in vaccine access also have a high rate of new COVID-19 infections—which tend to be more fatal and severe among Black Americans than Whites—with a daily average of more than 50 new cases per 100,000 during November 2020 to January 2021.
Racial disparities in vaccine access already are apparent. Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that of the 13 million Americans who were vaccinated against COVID-19 in the first month of the rollout, only 5% were Black.
“It’s important to adopt a data-driven approach to make sure we get vaccine distribution that’s equitable,” said Pitt Public Health alumna Inmaculada Hernandez, (HPM '16), assistant professor at the Pitt School of Pharmacy and senior author of the study. “Not all counties have the same limitations in existing infrastructure, and that variability is what public health policy should be focused on. We won’t be able to vaccinate everyone if we adopt a one-size-fits-all strategy statewide.”
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