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Bay County African-Americans vaccinated at a lower rate than whites

Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 10:45 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - African Americans are not receiving COVID-19 vaccines at the same rate as others, according to Tuesday’s updated numbers from a vaccine summary released by the Department of Health.

“The numbers are not good at all,” Bay County NAACP president Dr. Rufus Wood said.

The summary shows that here in Bay County where race is known, almost 24,000 white people have been vaccinated and a little more than 2,000 African Americans have received their shots. Whites are tracking right on compared to the latest population figures. But Black vaccinations are down about 36% compared to their census numbers.

“That shows a definite disparity and we need to close that gap,” Bay County LEAD Coalition Executive Director Janice Lucas said.

Lucas said they’ve been tracking these numbers since January.

The summary shows 2,100 African-Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose. But if they were tracking according to population ratios, 3,300 should have received their shot so far.

“Whatever we’re doing is still not enough and we need to do a better job. There’s always room for improvement,” said Wood.

Wood believes there’s a reason behind the disparity.

“The reason we are having problems with people getting the vaccine, particularly African Americans, I think there is an issue of mistrust.” said Wood. “We had a lot of black people who participated in the studies. So I think those are reasons we can be much more trusting of this vaccine than things in the past.”

Both Wood and Lucas said they’re determined to encourage as many people as possible to get vaccinated, but accessibility is also an issue. They said there needs to be more vaccination sites in African American communities.

“We’re working to make the vaccine available, accessible, and readily available to those who want it,” said Lucas.

And as both say, they’re working to close the gap.

In Florida, whites make up 77% of the population, but of those receiving the vaccine so far, 80% are white. African Americans make up 17% of the population, but Blacks only account for 7.5% of vaccines given so far. These numbers track only where race is known.

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