Black Americans are three times as likely as whites to get COVID-19, and twice as likely to die from it. Still, with the Delta variant on the march, Black vaccination rates remain lower than for whites. Why is that, and what can we do about it?
Black Americans are particularly vulnerable to the disease. They are more likely to live in crowded spaces, more likely to use public transportation, and more likely to hold jobs in which working from home is not an option. Blacks are also more likely to have pre-existing health conditions. This is due in part to the fact that many live in areas with more environmental toxins like lead.
The problem is not as severe in Kansas, for now. Here, Blacks make up 6% of the population and 5% of COVID cases and deaths. However, the vaccination rate is lower—only 4% vaccinated Kansans are Black. Neighboring Missouri paints a starker picture. On our eastern border, African-Americans account for 25% of cases and 13% of deaths, but only 9% of vaccinations and 11% of the population.