Reber Points to Racial Inequity in Vaccine Distribution

Associate Professor of Public Policy Sarah Reber was featured in a ProPublica article about how to make the COVID-19 vaccine rollout more racially equitable. In some locations, people 75 and older have been prioritized in the vaccine distribution, a strategy that ignores the fact that Black Americans have a shorter life expectancy than their white counterparts and are therefore less likely to receive the vaccine. Research has also shown that Black people who die from COVID-19 are, on average, about 10 years younger than white victims. “If you [allocate the vaccine] strictly by age, you’re going to vaccinate white people who have lower risks before you vaccinate Black people with higher risks,” Reber explained. “If you’re trying to avert deaths, you would want to vaccinate Blacks who are about 10 years younger than whites.” The disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Black Americans is expected to further exacerbate the life expectancy gap between Black and white Americans.

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