Disproportionately low number of Black individuals received the mpox vaccine

A disproportionately low number of Black individuals received the mpox vaccine during the public health emergency for the virus, which lasted for several months before ending earlier this year.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released a report on Wednesday that found Black people made up one-third of all new mpox cases from May, when the first cases of the outbreak were found, until the end of January, when the public health emergency ended. But they only made up one-tenth of all vaccine recipients for the virus during that time.

Hispanic and Latino people made up one-fifth of those who received at least one dose of the Jynneos vaccine, which can treat smallpox, according to a release announcing the report. However, they accounted for more than one-quarter of weekly cases.

Kelley Robinson, president of the HRC, said in the release that the top public health priority should be taking down systematic barriers that affect the health of people of color and members of the LGBTQ community across the country.

“This data details what we’ve known to be true for generations: Effective care for the most marginalized in our community is continually too little, too late,” Robinson said.

Researchers found that white individuals comprised 46.5 percent of all people who received at least one dose of the vaccine and half of all people who received both doses, despite only making up one-third of cases on average weekly.

They also found that Black individuals were less likely to have received treatment for mpox from a medication called TPOXX than white and Latino people. Just more than a quarter of TPOXX recipients were Black, while 34 percent were Latino and 33 percent were white. Only 3 percent were Asian, which is in line with the community comprising 2.8 percent of total cases.

Shoshana Goldberg, HRC’s director of public education and research, said in the release that the public health community needs to change “antiquated and historically inadequate” ways that it tries to reach marginalized groups with information and care that they need.

“One of the most important tools we have to understand and stay in front of public health emergencies like mpox is transparent data collection,” she said.

“It’s time to make our public health system more robust, from data collection to increased funding for community health centers on the frontlines,” Goldberg added.

More than 30,000 cases of mpox and 26 deaths resulting from the virus occurred in the U.S. during the outbreak.

Health experts urged populations most at risk of catching the virus — specifically men who have sex with men — to get vaccinated soon after the outbreak began. The virus mostly spreads through direct skin-to-skin contact.

Advocacy groups warned at the end of the emergency that the virus continues to pose a risk, particularly for certain LGBTQ community members of color.

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