WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) have introduced a resolution marking April as Minority Health Month, to highlight the ongoing disparities in health care and health outcomes for minority populations including American Indians, Alaska Natives, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Hawaiians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. As we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken a disproportionate toll on people of color and raised awareness of existing health disparities, the theme for this year’s National Minority Health Month is “Vaccine Ready.”
Vaccinations will be critically important in preventing the spread of COVID-19 among communities of color, as 3.5 times more American Indian and Alaska Natives, 2.9 times more Hispanics, and 2.8 times more African Americans were hospitalized due to COVID-19 compared to non-Hispanic Whites. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), certain medical conditions predispose adults to worse health outcomes from COVID-19. Minority populations are more likely to have such comorbidities, which include cancer, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, heart Conditions, HIV infection, obesity, sickle cell disease, stroke or cerebrovascular disease, and substance use disorders.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on minority communities that already were experiencing obstacles to accessing health care and higher rates of chronic disease. Until we fully commit to breaking down systemic barriers to health care, communities of color will continue to be left behind,” said Senator Cardin. “The COVID-19 vaccines currently available are game changers and we must do all we can to encourage minority populations, through trusted messengers, to get their shots. The key to protecting the public health and creating a healthier, stronger nation is to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care.”
“The pandemic disproportionately affected many of our minority communities across the country, highlighting the need for improved access to care and better health habits,” said Senator Scott. “Many of these communities experience higher rates of high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, and other conditions that leave people more susceptible to diseases and viruses such as COVID-19. As we overcome the pandemic together, Minority Health Month reminds us that our work is not over.”
In addition to Senators Cardin and Scott, the resolution is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kevin Cramer (D-N.D.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.).