COVID-19 continues to expose the inequities in our health care system. Statistics continue to show that people of color and low-income residents of all ethnicities have a higher risk of death from COVID-19. The primary factors that give rise to these disparities range from lack of access to adequate, affordable healthcare and misinformation.
The facts are stark and indisputable. According to a recent report from the L.A. County Department of Public Health, adults who have chosen not to be vaccinated are five times more likely to be infected with COVID-19 and, if infected, are 29 times more likely to be hospitalized. Unvaccinated adults represent 99.5% of COVID-19- related deaths, and a disproportionate number of these deaths are people of color. In addition, unvaccinated adults who become infected by COVID-and survive are too often subject to long-term effects of the infection, including heart, lung, and neurological problems.
Lack of access to adequate health care in our communities existed before the COVID-19 pandemic. African Americans in the Los Angeles area are more likely to suffer from obesity, hypertension, and heart disease than other ethnic groups. And yet, COVID-19 vaccination rates among African Americans continue to be a fraction of the vaccination rates for different ethnic groups. We must reverse this trend now.
The available vaccines are the best defense against the COVID-19 pandemic and existing and future variants of vaccines. All three available vaccines have proven to do what we need them to do effectively. They significantly reduce the likelihood of death and long-term health issues, in addition to protecting us from the worst outcomes of COVID-19. These outcomes have the additional benefit of freeing up our hospitals and frontline staff to continue providing services to everyone who needs health care.
We must unite as a community and face this crisis together. The Los Angeles Urban League, the National Urban League, and our other 90+ affiliates are part of an ALL !N campaign against misinformation and outright falsehoods surrounding the impact of COVID-19 and the life-saving effect of the available vaccines.
Each of us must do our part in this global fight against COVID-19. If we do not, we potentially become an agent of the virus, putting our families and community at a greater risk. We all must be All !N for our community.