American Indians and Alaska natives should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccines, says GlobalData

COVID-19 relief and vaccine roll-out should prioritize American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) populations, as they are a marginalized group in the US healthcare and are more likely to be hospitalized with severe symptoms than the general population. If vaccine rollout can indeed reach 75% of the AI/AN population, it is hopeful the pandemic in this population can be successfully controlled, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Kasey Fu, MPH, Director of Epidemiology at GlobalData, comments: “Herd immunity is expected to be reached when around 70% of the population either have recovered from the infection or have received vaccinations.”

Reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that AI/AN populations are 3.5 times as likely to get COVID-19 as non-Hispanic whites. It is difficult to determine if this trend is due to higher rates of underlying conditions or other causes, which makes it difficult to develop effective public health measures to stop transmission.

Ms Fu continues: “A successful roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in the AI/AN population is going to be key to control the pandemic for this at-risk group. Public opinion regarding the acceptance of the vaccine within the tribal populations have been both positive and negative in the last year.”

However, the recent news from the Urban Indian Health Institute shows 75% would be willing to get the vaccine, which is higher than the general population.

Ms Fu concludes: “The high level of acceptance of the vaccine could be due to partnerships involving the tribal populations early in the vaccine development phase. For example, the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the Center for American Indian Health teamed up to ensure there were opportunities for Native Americans to participate in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, in order to be able to study the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in the population.”

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