HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Pfizer Approval Boosts Minority Outreach

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Covid-19 vaccination rates in minority communities—driven by fears of the delta variant—surged past those of White Americans, but not enough shots are getting into arms to close the racial gap on new infections and hospitalizations.

Full approval of Pfizer’s vaccine and a similar upcoming review of Moderna’s dose could shift the conversation among holdouts in communities with histories of medical and government skepticism, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey. But it will take conversations from trustworthy friends and community leaders to potentially win them over.

“With the FDA approval, we need the people that can have that local conversation and that family to family conversation, to really double down that we know we all care for each other,” said Juliet Choi, president and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum. “It’s not that government official that’s going to crack that net.”

Prior to the delta surge, Black and Hispanic Americans were almost three times more likely to be hospitalized and twice as likely to die of Covid-19 than were White Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The more infectious delta strain has pushed more people to get the vaccine, but minority advocates said additional outreach is necessary even as their rates of vaccination outpace the White community.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech shot on Aug. 23. Moderna said on Aug. 25 it had completed the application process for full approval of its Covid-19 vaccine in the U.S.

Because communities of color aren’t monolithic, vaccine advocates plan to shift the talks away from the federal approval to other concerns around the virus, such as misinformation and distrust in the vaccine process.

Despite concerns around the injection, Covid-19 vaccinations among Black and Hispanic communities saw a slight uptick, particularly in southern states where the virus has hit the hardest, according to Aug. 13 data from Bloomberg News. Overall, states tracked by Bloomberg have vaccinated 4.3% of Hispanic people, 3.7% of Black people, and 2.6% of White people from mid-July to mid-August. Read more from Ayanna Alexander.

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