San Diego's Latino and Black Residents Fall Behind in COVID-19 Boosters

The percentage of white residents who have gotten a COVID-19 booster shot is significantly higher than that of Black and Latino residents, a troubling trend that echoes the early rollout of the vaccine.

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Elizabeth Castro is part of the successful effort by the San Diego Latino Health Coalition to narrow the vaccination gap between its white and Latino residents.

“Our goal is to get the community to think of the vaccine,” said Castro.

Castro is one of the dozens of "promotoras" or health promoters who have spent the last year at health fairs, supermarkets and schools educating our community about the vaccine.

Their work proved successful earlier this year when Latino vaccination rates saw a boost, but now that booster shots have been rolled out rates among Latinos are once again starting to fall behind.

“The numbers overall are pretty reflective of what we saw early on when vaccines were first rolled out," said Corinne Mcdaniels-Davidson, Ph.D., Director of the Institute of Public Health at San Diego State University.

McDaniels says new data from the county on booster shots is a cause for concern.

"People are going to be gathering and when we share the air with people from outside of our own households, the virus has a chance to spread," said Mcdaniels-Davidson. "So getting the booster now will give people will give their immune system what it needs to really get ready to fight the virus so that they don't become infected."

The data shows 51.8% of the county’s booster shots have been administers to white residents, 15.7% to Latino residents, 13.7% to Asian residents, 2.5% to Black residents, 0.6% to Pacific Islanders, 0.4% to American Indian and the 15.3% to people of unidentified races. 

"What we need now is an outreach that's tailored to these communities with low uptake from trusted messengers within the communities so that we can get the word out that boosters are recommended for them," said Mcdaniels-Davidson.

San Diego's promotoras are ready to once again tackle vaccine misinformation and hesitancy.

"Our work keeps going," said Castro. "Our goal and mission keep going. We need to get everyone vaccinated. We need to get them the information.”

A new commitment towards vaccine equity.

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