Report: Vaccinations fewer for Hispanic, Black people in WA

Washington state health leaders say as the state closes in on the 1 million vaccination mark, a new report shows disproportionately low percentages of Hispanic, Black and multiracial people have received it.

The report, released Thursday by the Department of Health, shows race and ethnicity data for people who have received at least one dose of vaccine and for people who are fully vaccinated, with breakdowns for all ages.

The percentage of Black and Hispanic people who have received one dose as well as the percentage who are fully vaccinated is lower than their representation in the state population, the report’s findings show.

The percentage of fully vaccinated people who are Hispanic, for example, is currently 5.9%, which is lower than the 13.2% Hispanic representation in the state population, according to the report’s findings.

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Black people make up 2.7% of people who are fully vaccinated, which is lower than 3.9% Black representation in population of Washington. Multiracial groups are also underrepresented compared to the overall state’s population, the report said.

“These data are crucial to understanding how we must balance the need to vaccinate as many Washingtonians as quickly as possible while also promoting equity in the process,” Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health, said in a news release. “While we have been focusing on both throughout, we must all do more to address these COVID-19 vaccine inequities and related access barriers.”

Shah said the department is updating strategies meant to reduce the inequities. Some of them include prioritizing allocation and support to providers who effectively serve disproportionately impacted communities, fostering collaboration opportunities, supporting a trauma-informed approach to vaccine conversations and ensuring communications and outreach efforts are culturally and linguistically appropriate and accessible.

The report also shows American Indian or Alaska Natives comprise a slightly larger proportion of vaccinated people compared to their representation in the population, both among people who have received at least one dose and those who are fully vaccinated. Asians are slightly overrepresented among people who are fully vaccinated, according to the report.

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The Urban Indian Health Institute, a division of the Seattle Indian Health Board, said Thursday the state data underrepresents American Indian and Alaska Native populations.

Abigail Echo-Hawk, executive vice president of the Board and Institute director, said her kids, whose ethnicity is Hispanic and race is American Indian/Alaska Native, would not be counted as Native people under the state’s data practices.

“This is wrong, and it is detrimental to our community’s ability to be truly represented in data that decides the way our programs are funded and resourced,” Echo-Hawk said in the emailed statement.

The Department of Health didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Additionally, the infectious coronavirus variant that swept through the United Kingdom has been detected in five additional cases from King County, The Seattle Times reported Thursday.

The discovery brings the total number of infections caused by the variant in Washington to at least a dozen. Also called B117, the UK variant is estimated to be about 50% more infectious than the unmutated strain of the coronavirus.

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