Community leaders combat racial disparities in COVID-19 vaccine access

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 9:35 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - We’re more than 18 months into the pandemic and the U.S. has reached another milestone. According to John Hopkins University, 1 in 500 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the nation reported its first case.

Death rates are higher in marginalized communities.

According to The Washington Post, the numbers reveal racial inequalities for COVID-19 deaths in people age 40-64.

So far, the virus has killed 1 in 1,300 white people, 1 in 480 black people, 1 in 390 Hispanic people and 1 in 240 Native Americans.

Multiple vaccination clinics that target marginalized communities have been open throughout Eastern North Carolina, but attendance to those clinics has significantly declined recently.

Greenville councilwoman Monica Daniels believes historically marginalized communities have always been hesitant to get any vaccine.

“I think historically, black and brown individuals have not been valued,” Daniels said.

“We’ve been used more as experiments and that is something that when new things come out, that is the first thing that comes to mind.”

Monica Daniels, Greenville councilwoman

Meanwhile, Tonya Foreman, the founder of Citizens Advocating for Racial Equity and Equality (CAREE), thinks vaccine hesitancy in marginalized communities is rooted from other reasons, including the possibility of getting blood clots from the Johnson & Johnson shot.

“I think that the stats are due to a lack of information and education,” Foreman said.

“The difference that we made in our organization in the community, from January to April 15, our average for our vaccination clinics was 155 people. After the J&J debacle it went from 155 to 75.”

Tonya Foreman, founder of Citizens Advocating for Racial Equity and Equality

Foreman says her organization has had boots on the ground since January to put shots in the arms of those who need it most. Now their goal is provide booster shots.

“We’re just waiting for the approval, and then we’ll start setting vaccination clinic dates,” Foreman said.

Foreman goes on to say that the goal is to host a booster vaccination clinic at the Pitt County Health Department on Oct. 9. An official time has not been announced yet.

For information on vaccine clinics near you, CLICK HERE.

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