April 24, 2021
Washington Post
Men lag behind women in coronavirus vaccinations, especially in Black communities

DJ Quicksilva was on the fence about getting vaccinated. The radio host, who lives in Prince George’s County, Md., had been eligible since January because he teaches at his DJ school in person. His doctor was pushing him to get the shot. But he did not trust a medical system he felt had too often failed Black men like him.

When his wife got vaccinated in March, the pressure mounted.

“It is creating that separation in the house,” he said during a forum he hosted with doctors. “Like: ‘Okay, baby, I’m vaccinated. What you going to do?’ I’m like: ‘Ugh.’ ”

Across the country, more women than men have been getting vaccinated, data shows, even though more men have been hospitalized for or died of covid-19. In the D.C. area, the gap appears especially wide among Black residents.

Local and state officials largely point to early eligibility guidelines that prioritized senior citizens and health-care workers, who are disproportionately female. But public health experts and community advocates say that perspective overlooks the important ways gender can intersect with race and income to drive vaccine hesitancy. Outreach efforts are failing to reach men of color, they say, particularly those who are poor or unemployed. A Washington Post analysis shows that the gender gap in D.C., Maryland and Virginia stayed consistent from March through early April, even as more adults became eligible.

Local governments are expanding walk-up options and offering pop-up vaccine clinics at churches and in underserved neighborhoods to reach those who are not able or willing to navigate online sign-up systems. So far, however, direct efforts to convince men to get vaccinated have largely come from doctors, pastors and even barbers in one-on-one conversations.

“You got the hesitancy, you got the inconvenience, you got the misinformation and you got the machismo,” said the Rev. Derrick DeWitt of First Mount Calvary Baptist Church in West Baltimore, who has interceded on behalf of several female congregants struggling to get their husbands vaccinated.

He said it has been especially challenging to engage older Black men, who are closer to the memory of the decades-long Tuskegee experiment, when government-financed doctors allowed syphilis to run unchecked through Black test subjects despite knowing that penicillin would cure them.

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