Washington: US Vice-President Kamala Harris will take a leading role in her government’s efforts to persuade sceptical ethnic minority communities to have the coronavirus vaccine.
Harris, the highest-ranking person of colour in the administration, will visit local communities to spread awareness about access to the COVID-19 vaccine and boost confidence in the jab.
The issue is a crucial first test for Harris and Joe Biden, who came into office promising to tackle the racial inequities in American healthcare.
Vice-President Kamala Harris receives her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Credit:AP
Figures suggest black Americans are three times as likely to die from coronavirus as their white peers, but lag way behind in terms of immunisation rates.
Harris’s involvement in the pandemic response has been carefully coordinated, having received her vaccine publicly at the United Medical Centre, Washington’s only public hospital, which predominantly serves black patients.
It is also in an area of the city with one of the worst infection rates. “I want to remind people that right in your community is where you can take the vaccine,” Harris said at the time.
Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Patricia Cummings at United Medical Center in southeast Washington. Credit:AP
In a social media campaign, Harris stressed “communities of colour” had been “particularly” hard hit.
“When it becomes available to you, don’t wait – get vaccinated. It’s safe, easy, and it saves lives,” she said.
According to a December study by the Pew Research Centre, fewer than half of black Americans said they intended to get a COVID-19 vaccine, compared with 63 per cent of Hispanic people and 61 per cent of white people.
Systemic inequalities in the healthcare services and historical mistreatment are largely to blame.
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