Push continues to encourage COVID-19 vaccination among communities of color

Nearly nine months since the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, there remains a push to get more shots into arms as the delta variant continues to spread. Physicians say communities of color are being hit especially hard.

"I think things could get worse," said Dr. Andrew Kiragu a pediatric critical physician at Hennepin County Medical Center and Children's Hospital.

At HCMC in Minneapolis, physicians are seeing a rise in COVID-19 infections in unvaccinated people, both children and adults. Another troubling trend is an uptick in unvaccinated people of color falling seriously ill or dying.

"This variant seems to be causing more severe disease," said Dr. Kiragu.

In Minnesota, white Minnesotans are vaccinated at rates higher than many racial and ethnic groups. The state's Asian population has been vaccinated at a greater rate than any population. The vaccination rate among African Americans is nearly 50 percent, the Native American population sits at more than 48 percent.

Dr. Kiragu says skepticism concerning the vaccines is only part of the problem.  

"There's also, unfortunately a lot of misinformation and this worries me especially when this misinformation is directed at communities of color," he said.

With cooler weather and the start of the new school year around the corner in many districts, Dr. Kiragu is concerned about the months ahead.

"I think as a society we really should use the tools provided to us and simple things, wear a mask," he said.

According to the latest figures, recent weeks have seen Native Americans in Minnesota with particularly high case rates.