Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Officials say it's 'time to play catch-up' on race gap as vaccine access widens


March 16, 2021

Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune

M Health Fairview nurse Nicole Parr administered a dose of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 19 to James Wells, 73, of Minneapolis, at Shiloh Temple in Minneapolis.

Disparities in COVID-19 vaccination have persisted in Minnesota, but equity advocates hope a recent expansion in eligibility will steer more doses to minority members who have suffered higher rates of severe illness and death.

The latest Minnesota Department of Health data showed that Black people make up 6% of the state's population but 3.5% of its vaccine recipients. The COVID-19 death rate for Black people is more than twice that for white people when adjusting for differences in the average ages of the two groups in Minnesota.

A disparity was inevitable with the focus of COVID-19's initial vaccine distribution being on vulnerable senior citizens, because Minnesota's elderly population is disproportionately white, said JP Leider, a University of Minnesota researcher who has analyzed disparities in COVID-19 cases and deaths. However, the recent expansion to 1.8 million non-elderly adults based on their occupations and underlying health status provides an opportunity to even that out.


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