Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Is Right That Democrats Have a Vaccine Hesitancy Problem, but It’s Not Nearly As Big As the GOP’s
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, is taking flak from Democrats for his recent comments about COVID-19 vaccination rates among African Americans. While his remarks, taken literally, were inaccurate, his general point—that vaccine hesitancy is not limited to white Republicans—was correct, as even the fact checkers who criticized him acknowledged. At the same time, that problem is indisputably bigger in the GOP than it is in the other major party.
In a Thursday night interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News, Patrick complained that “the Democrats like to blame Republicans” for spurning vaccination. But in fact, he claimed, African Americans are “the biggest group” of unvaccinated people in “most states,” and “over 90 percent of them vote for Democrats.” His conclusion: “It’s up to the Democrats,” just as “it’s up to Republicans,” to “try to get as many people vaccinated” as possible.
Since blacks represent about 14 percent of the U.S. population, it would be quite surprising if they accounted for “the biggest group” of unvaccinated Americans. As of late July, according to KFF polling data, whites accounted for 57 percent of that group. Still, it is true that blacks are less likely to be vaccinated than whites. As of August 17, 40 percent of blacks had received at least one dose, compared to 45 percent of Hispanics, 50 percent of whites and 67 percent of Asian Americans. (Those numbers represent shares of the “total population” in each group, including children who are not yet eligible for vaccines; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 71 percent of Americans 12 or older have been at least partly vaccinated.)
The picture is similar in Texas. “There are an estimated 5.6 million white people who are eligible and unvaccinated,” The Texas Tribune reports, “while the same figure is 1.9 million for Black people, who make up a far smaller part of the overall population.” About 44 percent of black Texans have been at least partly vaccinated, compared to 53 percent of whites, 57 percent of Latinos, and 78 percent of Asians. The corresponding figures for full vaccination are about 29 percent, 37 percent, 40 percent, and 59 percent, respectively.
In a Facebook statement he posted on Friday, Patrick said he was alluding to these disparities during his Fox News interview. “Federal and State data clearly indicate that Black vaccination rates are significantly lower than White or Hispanic rates,” he said. “Democrats continue to play politics with peoples’ lives, pandering to rather than serving certain constituencies. Republican leadership will cont
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