The Delta variant is the most common strain across California now, and in LA County, the coronavirus infection rate for African Americans has jumped nearly 20% over a recent two-week period. Hospitalizations have also risen.
This is reflective of lower vaccination rates among Black Angelenos, as well as vaccine hesitancy and misinformation that have spread, says Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chair of UC San Francisco’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
“We know that issues of mistrust are really important and particularly important in the African American communities. ... We also know that there are groups that really are pushing anti-vaccination messages … to African Americans.”
She adds, “This is a group who sometimes waives the risks and benefits a little differently. Maybe they think that they're not going to be infected, maybe that COVID is not a big deal. And that's why they're not prioritizing vaccinations. And that's where we really have to get the message out from trusted messengers, and particularly to our young adults.”
She notes that any surge of COVID-19 infections can lead to consequences for an entire community.
“It's a combination of low vaccination rates plus this variant that moves so quickly through communities that really poses a big threat. And that's why you have to do it for yourself, but you also have to do it for the rest of the community to get vaccinated at this point.”