This op-ed was originally published in the Austin American-Statesman.
Although the term “vaccine hesitancy” has gained momentum in recent months, it fails to capture the systemic nature of the greater problem of vaccine access and lack of trust in public health institutions, especially among groups and communities that historically have been underserved and mistreated or even abused by the public health and medical care systems. We should rephrase it to “vaccine equity.”
The COVID-19 pandemic undeniably hit communities of color the hardest. Disparities in testing, infection rates, rates of hospitalization and death in communities of color have been well-documented since the onset of the pandemic. And yet, according to the latest data available, the rate of vaccination within these groups lags well behind that of white individuals nationally, and Texas is no exception.