The Vaccination Gap Is Based on Class and Not Race

It has to do with education and income differentiating outcomes.

Much has been said and written about the gap in who is getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and who is choosing not to get the shot. It has been described as being a racial divide and also a political divide.

The author in this New York Times article, “The Vaccine Class Gap,” goes deeper to look at the class divide among vaccinated versus non-vaccinated people that is caused by education and income. This can help explain why Republicans, now generally working class and blue collar, and minorities, like blacks, with less education, and also blue collar workers, are not getting the vaccine. It boils down to the separation of classes in the United States.

While you can’t say that we were never a classless society, upward mobility has always been an attribute of our nation. We keep hearing that the current generations going into the workforce will, for the first time, more than likely not be better off than their parents economically.

Way back in about 2005, I participated in a media interview with a number of other people each talking about their area of expertise. I spoke about disaster preparedness for individuals and families. At the end of the session, the panel of media types asked the question, “what is the biggest issue you see impacting our nation?” Interestingly, the other folks being interviewed stuck to their primary topic. Maybe it was my extensive reading or my interest in history, but I said “it is the coming separation of classes here in the U.S.” I hate to say I was right, but that is what we are seeing playing out today. The haves and the have nots.

Below, I have copied and pasted a portion of the linked article from above for those who choose not to subscribe to a national newspaper:


The story here is bigger than Covid-19. Last year, the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton published a book called “Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism” that documented a growing class divide in one area of American life after another.

Income and wealth have grown much more quickly over recent decades for people with a bachelor’s degree than people without one. Marriage, church attendance and self-reported happiness have declined more for the working class than the professional class; chronic pain, obesity and alcohol consumption have increased more. As the title of the book indicates, life expectancy has also diverged, partly because of deaths from alcoholism, drug overdoses and suicide.

“This B.A./non-B.A. divide,” says Deaton, a Nobel laureate, “just comes up again and again and again.” Case and Deaton, who are Princeton professors, argue that behind these trends is a “coming apart” of the working-class experience. For many people, life lacks the structure, status and meaning that it once had. Frequently, people are not officially employed by the company where they work, which robs them of the pride that comes from being part of a shared enterprise. They don’t belong to a labor union, either. The timing of their work shifts can change unexpectedly. Many parents are trying to raise children without a partner.

These challenges can interfere with Covid vaccination in multiple ways. Carving out the time — to do the logistical research, get the shot, cope with side effects and schedule a second shot — can be hard. Working-class Americans also have less reason to trust public health officials; if you had suffered the damaging “coming apart” of the past few decades, would you trust people in positions of authority?

After I described the vaccination trends to Case and Deaton, they sent me some broader data on life expectancy, by both race and class. It shows a significant Black-white gap. But that gap has not grown over the past decade. What has grown is the life expectancy gap between college graduates and non-graduates, among both Black and white
Eric Holdeman is a nationally known emergency manager. He has worked in emergency management at the federal, state and local government levels. Today he serves as the Director, Center for Regional Disaster Resilience (CRDR), which is part of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER). The focus for his work there is engaging the public and private sectors to work collaboratively on issues of common interest, regionally and cross jurisdictionally.
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