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No surprise here: White folks in Arizona are snatching up most of the COVID-19 vaccine

Arizona Republic logo Arizona Republic 2/9/2021 Elvia Díaz, Arizona Republic
a close up of a hand: Army National Guard Sgt. Noah Thomas draws up a syringe of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Salem Health Covid-19 vaccination clinic at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, Ore. on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. © BRIAN HAYES / STATESMAN JOURNAL Army National Guard Sgt. Noah Thomas draws up a syringe of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Salem Health Covid-19 vaccination clinic at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, Ore. on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021.

Just as suspected, white people in Arizona are disproportionately snatching up the COVID-19 vaccine, though minorities are hit hardest with the novel coronavirus.

In raw numbers, 359,400 (47.9%) of the total 954,290 vaccines administered so far went to white people, according to newly released data from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Only 61,552 (8.2%) went to Latinos or Hispanics while 22,356 (3%) went to American Indian or Alaskan natives.

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The rest of the demographics are just as alarming:

  • 17,702 (2.4%) went to Asians.
  • 10,838 (1.4%) went to African Americans.
  • 1,699 (0.2%) went to native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders.

Notably, 277,112 (36.9%) are classified as other race or unknown. It would be good to know who these folks are to get a better picture of who’s getting the vaccine. 

Health centers help, but not fast enough

But nobody can really say the snapshot is shocking. Nationally, minorities have been behind in almost everything coronavirus-related from testing to now vaccines.

The disparity is just wrong.

Everyone should be vaccinated, of course, but distribution should be more equitable until supply is enough for anyone who wants one.  

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The Biden administration is ramping up vaccinations across the country to reach “underserved and most vulnerable communities” through federally qualified health centers.

Those centers serve almost 30 million people across the country, the White House says. “Two-thirds of the population that these centers serve are living at or below the federal poverty line and 60% are racial and/or ethnic minorities.”

Initially, there will be at least one of those centers in each state, eventually expanding to 250.

Good news? Yes, but not good enough and not fast enough.

Gov. Ducey, Dr. Christ must act now

We don’t know when and which center will be chosen in Arizona. Thus, Gov. Doug Ducey and Dr. Cara Christ must begin ramping up efforts to get vaccines into the arms of more Latinos, African Americans and other minorities.

Arizona’s mega vaccination site in the West Valley is cool, as Biden so enthusiastically pointed out this week. But getting an appointment to get a vaccine there or any place else remains difficult for just about everyone.

Now imagine trying to land one of those vaccines with no information where to get it and no computer to set it up and no transportation to get to the site.

Add to that language barriers for some Latinos and other foreigners, and you end up with large swaths of the population left with no vaccines.

But who cares about these people, anyway?

By now, we all know that COVID-19 can infect anyone and everyone exposed to it. The poor and minorities just happen to be disproportionately exposed to the deadly virus. 

Elvia Díaz is an editorial columnist for The Republic and azcentral. Reach her at 602-444-8606 or elvia.diaz@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter, @elviadiaz1.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: No surprise here: White folks in Arizona are snatching up most of the COVID-19 vaccine

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