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Native American Vaccination Rates

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jt052920e/a sec/jim Thompson/ Sign along State road 12 north of Fort Defiance warning people about the Covid-19 virus in their native language. Friday, May, 29, 2019. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal) a01_jd_31may_why

As the Delta variant sweeps through the American idiocracy, it should not surprise you that the highest vaccination rates in the nation are in the tribes.

Indeed, the U.S. Indigenous population had more than 3.5 times the infection rate, more than four times the hospitalization rate, and a higher mortality rate than white Americans, reports the Indian Health Service (IHS), a federal health program for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Official data reveal that the Navajo Nation, the largest tribe in the U.S., has been one of the hardest-hit populations, reporting one of the country’s highest per-capita COVID-19 infection rates in May 2020, the Navajo Times reports.

Being so disproportionately affected led to a sense of urgency toward vaccination among American Indians and Alaska Natives, says Crevier, who is the chief executive officer of the National Council of Urban Indian Health, a partner of IHS. And many IHS affiliates stepped up, showing early success with vaccination education and campaigns specifically for Indigenous communities, some of whom would otherwise have trouble accessing coronavirus vaccines.

In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Twitter that its COVID-19 data tracker now displays U.S. vaccination progress by race and ethnicity. The tracker, “Percent of People Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine by Race/Ethnicity and Date Reported to CDC, United States,” showed that as of July 6, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest vaccination rate in the country, with 45.5% having received at least one dose and 39.1% fully vaccinated. They’re followed by Asians (36.6%, 35%), whites (33.7%, 32.2%), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders (35.9% 31.3%), Hispanic/Latinos (31.8%, 28.3%), and Black people (25.8%, 23.2%). As of late May, American Indian and Alaska Native vaccination rates were higher than white vaccination rates in 28 states, including New Mexico, Arizona, and Alaska, where many Indigenous people receive care from tribal health centers and the IHS, Connecticut News Project’s CT Mirror reports.

There are historically contingent reasons why people of color are distrustful of white-run medicine. But no one has a bigger reason to be fearful of pandemics than the Native population and they are acting in the most rational way possible by getting the shots at the first opportunity, often despite physical isolation from vaccination centers. The biggest problem right now is Native populations in urban centers, which in fact is where the majority of Native Americans live. This of course is a problem regardless of race.

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