Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the president, told theGrio that underserved communities have slowed on getting their booster shots – putting them at risk of disproportionate exposure, or worse, death.
After more than two years of living with COVID-19, the United States reached a bleak milestone with over one million Americans dying from the virus.
But as noted by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre last week, since President Joe Biden took office, the administration has helped to reduce the number of COVID-related deaths by 90 percent. Those stats are supported by 220 million Americans being fully vaccinated and over 100 million people being boosted.
However, federal data from the CDC also shows that 60 percent of adults and 75 percent of children have contracted COVID-19. Those numbers are the tip of the iceberg as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the president, told theGrio that he is concerned about rising cases among Black Americans and other minority and vulnerable populations.
Dr. Fauci said that when it comes to contracting the highly contagious COVID-19 omicron variant, it is not a matter of if but when people get infected with the virus. What’s more, Fauci said, scores of Americans from underserved communities have slowed on getting their booster shots – putting them yet again at risk of disproportionate exposure, or worse, death.
The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said that when it came time for Americans to receive their first vaccine shot, the rate of Black and Brown Americans getting immunized for the first time was of equal proportion to white Americans. For example, among elderly Black Americans 75 and older, 80-90 percent were vaccinated, said Fauci.
However, the rate of African Americans getting boosted has dipped when the third round of shots was made available.
“We’re not seeing as much of an uptake of boosters among African-American and Hispanic [Americans],” Fauci told theGrio.
Less than 50 percent of Black Americans have received their booster, according to America’s top doctor on infectious diseases who added, “We’ve got to make sure they realize that the immunity wanes.”
American seniors who contract the omicron variant are at most risk of death, according to a recent report from The New York Times. Experts say the rising death toll among the elderly population is due in part to a delay in getting booster shots.
Fauci emphasized to theGrio the importance for seniors, such as himself, to get their boosters because “you still have the susceptibility of a severe outcome if, in fact, you do get infected.” The health expert is also part of the 40 percent of Americans who have not contracted COVID-19.
However, when it comes to minority populations, many are frontline workers and first responders. As Fauci noted, “generally many of them don’t have the option of being sheltered from interaction and being able to talk, for example, through a Zoom and do their job behind the computer that they’re at risk to begin with.”
There are other historic and pervasive factors that compound the negative impact on Black and Brown Americans who contract COVID due to “social determinants of health,” said Dr. Fauci. Blacks and Hispanics have higher levels of underlying conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma and obesity.
Because of these racial health disparities, Fauci stressed the importance of inoculations and boosters. The Biden-Harris administration, he said, is committed to spreading that message and centering equity in its continued public health efforts to combat COVID-19.
“The administration has a very, very firm commitment to equity,” said Fauci. “Not only in the availability of vaccines and testing but also in getting the anti-viral drugs distributed to pharmacies, including in those areas that are generally underserved, namely African-American and Hispanic areas.”
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