Over the past year, news on COVID-19 has dominated our attention, and with an endless number of potential sources for information, it can be difficult to filter through and identify the facts. At Blue KC we recognize the importance of understanding the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccine. Here is what we currently know:
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for three vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna and most recently, Johnson & Johnson.
- The vaccines are the most powerful tool to stop the spread of COVID-19 and are highly effective in preventing serious illness from the virus.
- All authorized vaccines have gone through rigorous testing and safety assessments with trials that included thousands of participants across diverse populations varying in age, sex, race, and ethnicity.
- Mild side effects are common and are a sign that the vaccine is working. These may include headache, sore muscles, fatigue, or mild fever.
- You still need to a wear a mask and social distance after you’ve been vaccinated as it’s still unclear whether a vaccinated individual could spread COVID-19 to others.
- The authorized vaccines cannot cause COVID-19.
- Medical experts predict that to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, 85 percent of the adult population will need to be vaccinated.
- Vaccine doses will be available to all Americans at no cost. However, providers might still charge an administration fee for giving you the shot. Be sure to check with your insurer.
Blue KC’s commitment remains rooted in improving both education and access to the vaccine so we can continue our battle against the pandemic in the coming year. You can learn more about the safety, efficacy and other important information about the COVID-19 vaccine in another post on our blog, The Blueprint.
Vaccine Uptake in Communities of Color
State data on vaccinations by race show that Black and Hispanic Americans are receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at dramatically lower rates than White Americans. In Missouri, only 7 percent of Black Americans and 3 percent of Hispanic Americans have been vaccinated as compared to 16.6 percent of White Americans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls out how long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many people from racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19. Among other things, the historical mistreatment of minorities in medicine has led to mistrust in the healthcare system, making these populations more hesitant to receive the vaccine.
Blue KC recognizes these concerns and acknowledges how disproportionately these populations have been impacted by COVID-19. Race and ethnicity are risk markers for other underlying conditions that affect health including socioeconomic status, access to health care, and exposure to the virus related to occupation. The CDC reports that Black and Hispanic populations experience at least a 1.9 times higher death rate as compared to White populations. And, right here in Kansas City, we see the same alarming statistics. According to Kansas City’s COVID-19 dashboard, the state death rate of Black and Hispanic individuals is significantly higher than that of the White population. Preventing racial disparities in the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines will be crucial to help mitigate the disproportionate impacts of the virus for people of color and prevent widening racial health disparities going forward.
To support this effort, Blue KC partnered with Kansas City Chiefs legend and Hall of Famer Bobby Bell to encourage those who are able to get their vaccine to help protect the community against the spread of COVID-19. Watch his compelling message below.
As vaccinations continue to rollout, Blue KC is committed to fair and equitable practices toward communities that have too long been overlooked and underserved.
Vaccine Eligibility and Registration Information
Vaccine eligibility and distribution is led by each state’s government, with recommendations from an independent panel of medical and public health experts on who should get the vaccine first. Kansas and Missouri have collectively administered over 2.6 million doses, with 19.5 percent of their populations having at least one of two doses. To determine your eligibility for the vaccine and register for an appointment, please visit:
Until enough people are vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, it’s crucial for all Kansas Citians to continue following the CDC’s guidance by wearing a mask, staying six feet apart and avoiding crowds. We are continually monitoring developments of the COVID-19 vaccine and what they mean for our members and the community. For the latest updates on COVID-19 from Blue KC, please visit our website.