Jan 22, 2021 - Health

People of color disadvantaged in coronavirus vaccine effort

Data: GoodRx, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios
Data: GoodRx, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Communities of color tend to have fewer pharmacies per capita, putting them at a disadvantage in the coronavirus vaccination effort.

Why it matters: If racial disparities aren't addressed in the vaccination effort, including by setting up alternative vaccine sites, communities of color will fall even further behind in a pandemic that has already highlighted deep structural racism within the health care system.

The big picture: Black Americans are already trailing white Americans in the states that track the race of vaccinated residents, KHN recently reported.

  • As vaccines become increasingly available to the general public, physical access to vaccination sites will likely become more of an imperative.

Between the lines: Millions of Americans — in both rural and urban areas — live in places without nearby pharmacies, or with a large population-to-pharmacy ratio, according to a recent analysis by GoodRx.

What's happening: President Biden has repeatedly stressed his commitment to an equitable coronavirus response, and part of his immediate vaccination plan includes setting up more inoculation sites.

  • Some states are already converting stadiums, convention centers and other large venues into mass vaccination sites.

But reaching vulnerable populations will require thorough strategic planning.

  • For example, if someone lives in a neighborhood without a pharmacy, and the convention center being used for vaccination is across town, transportation could be a huge barrier.

Go deeper: Poor vaccine planning could increase the pandemic's racial divide

Go deeper