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Rare COVID-19 Reaction Disproportionately Affects Hispanic, Latino Kids

Kevin Morris
Flickr Creative Commons

A rare but serious COVID-19-related condition has disproportionately affected Hispanic and Latino children in the Mountain West.

That group makes up nearly a third of Utah's 74 who were diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. At the same time, only 14% of Utah’s population is Hispanic or Latino, according to the Census Bureau.

Similar disparities recently showed up in Idaho, where Hispanic and Latino kids accounted for nearly a quarter of its 26 recorded cases.

Nationally, more Hispanic and Latino kids were diagnosed with the syndrome than any other group. Non-Hispanic Black children had the second-highest rate, according to CDC data.

Those two groups saw greater COVID-19 infections nationally, too. But the agency says more research is needed to know exactly why certain racial and ethnic groups have seen so many more kids with the inflammatory syndrome.

“Those high rates, in terms of what’s going on currently, don’t surprise me,” said Sam Byrd, director of the Center for Community and Justice in Boise, Idaho.

Byrd works with the Hispanic community there, listening to their concerns and educating many about the pandemic and benefits of the vaccine. He says there are differences of opinion within the community, but there are still a large number who have doubts about COVID-19 and the vaccines to prevent it.

However, to monitor education and vaccination efforts, he says continued data tracking of racial and ethnic groups is important.

“I think it’s the only way that we can make sure that we’re achieving equitable distribution,” he said.

That is, equitable distribution of a vaccine that could help prevent this serious side-effect in children. In the meantime, Byrd said he’ll keep working and educating and answering questions.

“It’s up to us, including myself – a member of the community – to try to figure out ways to provide the best information so hopefully people can make the decisions they need to make to live their lives,” he said. “Put it in a context that allows them to continue to hold onto their beliefs, but hopefully allows them to also be able to continue to do what they need to do to live.”

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

Madelyn Beck is Boise State Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau.
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