The nation has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic: over 400,000 Americans have died from complications of the coronavirus. Black Americans are 3.7 times as likely as white Americans to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and 2.8 times as likely to die.
Blacks and people of color are not inherently more susceptible to COVID-19 illness and mortality, however, existing structural racism contributes to the health disparities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social determinants of health place many people of color at heightened risk for poor COVID-19 outcomes, including disparities in healthcare coverage and access; disproportionate representation in “essential” jobs that often carry greater virus-exposure risk; crowded housing conditions; and disparities in income, education and wealth.
“It came down to fear versus wisdom,” said Marcus L. Williams of Newark. “When I looked at the science and weighed the risk it became clear I should take the vaccination. Finally, I wanted to keep my family safe and healthy, so I chose to get the vaccine.”
A Kaiser Health News analysis of state health-department data that reported vaccine recipients’ race and ethnicity, reported that Black vaccination rates are three to five times lower than White vaccination rates.
Members of the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) are on the front lines where they are providing quality cardiovascular care for millions of disadvantaged Americans, including those suffering from complications of the coronavirus disease.
ABC members also lead and support research to test effective vaccines and therapies. The ABC Cardiovascular Implementation Study (CVIS) utilizes innovative approaches to collect real world data at the point of care. Through these efforts, the ABC will continue to work with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), research institutions, healthcare providers, ABC community health advocates and other strategic partners to promote access to effective vaccines and therapies, as well monitoring of long term effects.
Advocacy is at the heart of ABC’s work to ensure that comprehensive health policies address access to affordable healthcare, structural racism, and social determinants of health. The organization is especially proud of its grassroots work to engage Blacks and other communities of color through its signature “Spirit of the Heart” education and wellness program as well as churches, beauty salons and barber shops.
The Association also supports equitable vaccination programs, as well as a comprehensive science-based public health approach, including wearing masks, hand washing and social distancing.