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Opinion: Black Americans are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. Here's how to make the vaccine rollout more equitable

February 23, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 22.1%. 1 min read.

Bhaskar Chakravorti writes that the first step to fixing this inequity is acknowledging that Covid-19 is more than a public health crisis and an economic crisis; it is also an information crisis.

In a nation where the rollout is only highlighting long-standing racial inequities, President Joe Biden has promised Black and brown people equal access to the vaccine.

But even in Biden's home state of Delaware, where Black Americans make up 24% of Covid-19 cases, as of Friday, they accounted for only 9% of vaccinations.

For a particularly stark example of how this digital divide affects the vaccine rollout, consider the poorest ZIP code in Shelby County, Tennessee, where 96% of residents are Black and 70% of households do not have internet access, according to census data.

More than half of Black adults in the US remain hesitant about getting the Covid-19 vaccine, according to a survey released earlier this month by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Instead, vaccination teams must be established in Black neighborhoods in places of worship, schools, community centers, mobile units and even in fast food restaurant and retailer parking lots.

Public health officials could launch campaigns via text messages or social media platforms to build awareness and trust in vaccines among younger, more digitally connected members of the Black community, who can help mobilize their older or higher-risk neighbors.

Facebook has been used to great effect to spread misinformation targeting Black and Latinx communities; the same targeting machinery, used legitimately, can be deployed to share accurate information about vaccine safety and sign-ups.

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