BALTIMORE — The numbers are indisputable: Over the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked deadly havoc upon Black communities nationwide and has touched lives close enough that most African Americans know personally of someone who has succumbed to it or are otherwise connected to someone who has.
The most recent proprietary research commissioned by the NAACP reveals that although about half of the Black community in the U.S. has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and is optimistic about a return to normalcy soon, African Americans continue to over-index in the number of confirmed cases and hospitalizations, the most severe economic impacts and the number of deaths. And, with evidence of the deadly variant strains now showing a consistent rise — especially among vulnerable, less-vaccinated populations — their concern is more than justified.
As the war against the pandemic in America’s Black communities rages on, the key battlefront in mid-2021 is reliable, up-to-date, trustworthy information enabling the unvaccinated — and those who are wary about vaccinating their younger children — to make the most well-informed decisions. Aggressive government vaccination goals remain elusive and are still far from being met. Some 48% of Black Americans surveyed report being worried about the new variants and their potential to fuel a spike in infection rates, while 52% fear another increase in cases possibly coming this year and question how to effectively prevent becoming infected, or infecting loved ones.
“We are certainly a strong, enduring, and resilient people, but the data doesn’t lie,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO. “Our research shows that Black Americans are optimistic about getting ahead of the COVID-19 crisis and resuming their daily lives and activities, yet there remains a great deal of work to be done — especially in reaching our young people and men with the information that they need,” he added.
The NAACP’s ‘COVID. KNOW MORE’ campaign continues to build upon the wealth of information it’s making available to the African American community while underscoring the pandemic’s devastating long-term implications and systemic disparities. The initiative features a multifaceted, user-friendly online information hub housing an array of options designed to help African Americans stay current with the ever-changing data and guidance as they navigate the pandemic, which can be easily accessed by visiting www.naacp.org/campaigns/covid-know-more.
The NAACP’s research further illuminates the facts that:
• More than half of African Americans (51%) today report that they are fully vaccinated; another 5% have received one dose and 6% report that they have an appointment to be vaccinated;
• Younger, lower-income, and southern Blacks lag behind, being the least likely Black adults to have received any of the vaccines;
• Preventing the spread of the coronavirus, especially to friends and family, are the greatest motivation for African Americans to get vaccinated;
• A large majority of Black parents with children ages 12 and older, or 70%, have had their children vaccinated or plan to do so, despite some trepidation about vaccinating children under age 12 (of those polled, 32% are unsure);
• Half of African American parents want their children to attend school fully in person next year, with only a small percentage preferring their kids to keep being schooled remotely;
• Black Americans remain most concerned about the new variants, and the possibility that coronavirus cases may rise again later this year as a result;
While the majority of African Americans say their lives have been substantially altered since the onset of the pandemic, there is increased optimism as nearly half now say that the worst of the pandemic is over, and the majority (66%) expect life in their local communities to return to normal by the end of this year.
Regarding continuing to be vigilant and protecting themselves, 54% of African Americans say they will continue to wear masks in both public and private settings, while among our valued essential worker corps, 61% report that they are likely to don masks all the time. With respect to the news about booster shots possibly being recommended soon for those already vaccinated, NAACP polling results reveal that 87% of fully vaccinated Black Americans are likely to take the shot once one is approved and available.