As Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities across the nation honor and celebrate the diverse contributions made in the United States, we are reminded that COVID-19 vaccines and boosters continue to make it possible for us to gather safely in public and private.
As of May 12, CDC reported over 258 million Americans (all eligible ages) have made the choice to be vaccinated.
Currently, over 12.8 million Asians (non-Hispanic) and 618,000 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders aged 5 years and older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, 95% of older Americans have been vaccinated—that’s 56.5 million adults aged 65 and older—a significant achievement in protecting our community’s elders since last year.
“We’ve got over 90% of seniors that are already vaccinated,” said Dr. Cameron Webb, White House Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity, at an April 22 summit called Conversations on Encouraging COVID-19 Vaccines. “We’ve got to get those same levels around boosters to really get that protection we need.”
Although AANHPIs are generally more likely to have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine compared to the overall U.S. population, about 39% of eligible Asians and over 52% of eligible Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders are still in need of a booster.
Webb said, “If you have been vaccinated and boosted, you are very well protected against the [COVID-19] variants we are currently seeing. We have the tools to save lives … and we’ve seen [that] boosters are very critical in keeping people safe.”
The nation has come a long way to keep communities safe, but data consistently show how communities of color remain disproportionately impacted by COVID, and health disparities for AANHPIs remain a key issue in achieving health equity. In fact, some AANHPI subsegments are at higher risk because of higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.
Experts also shared the importance of getting children vaccinated, encouraging parents to take action for the health and wellbeing of their families. “Almost all children who end up in the ICU are completely unvaccinated,” said Dr. Sean O’Leary, Vice Chair from the American Academy of Pediatrics. “This is both tragic and encouraging. Tragic because at this point in the pandemic, those hospitalizations were almost completely preventable, and encouraging because we have such a powerful tool (vaccines) going forward to prevent children from suffering.”
With more relaxed public mandates on COVID safety protocols and increased travel, COVID cases and hospitalizations are on the rise again. What is encouraging is that the death rate from COVID continues to decrease, thanks to widespread vaccinations.
Boosters have provided more people an extra measure of protection from the COVID virus and variants. As AANHPIs, let’s honor our community’s history by helping to protect its future.
Talk to a doctor or your local health care professional if you have questions. Find vaccines and boosters near you at vaccines.gov.
This health series is made possible by funding from the Washington State Department of Health, which has no editorial input or oversight of this content.