MISSION: Improving Black COVID-19 Vaccinations
By Cash Michaels
Amid strong skepticism based on historic distrust, the fact remains, African Americans desperately need to be vaccinated against the deadly coronavirus, especially given an estimated death rate of at least twice that of their white counterparts.
Here in North Carolina, according to figures from the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services, while whites in designated groups thus far have received over 79 percent of the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine thus far administered across the state, African American counterparts have only received over 13 percent, even though Blacks make up roughly 22 percent of the state’s population, and 21 percent of the cases.
Whites comparatively, are 62 percent of the COVID-19 cases statewide, according to NCDHHS.
At least 25 percent of COVID-19 cases that are deceased are Black.
“We do not see that we are vaccinating our African-American, our Hispanic community, our Native American community at the same rate we are vaccinating our white community, and that means we have work to do,” admitted Dr. Mandy Cohen, NCDHHS Secretary last week.
In recent weeks, NCDHHS has engaged Black leadership across the state to generate more trust in the community when it comes to individuals getting vaccinated. As has been well documented, the medical community’s torrid history with the African American community in terms of unethical experimentation and low standards of treatment have prevented many from trusting a vaccine so quickly developed and released not even a year after the COVID-19 virus was first discovered.
Then there is the question of how thoroughly was it tested and on who, before it was ultimately deemed safe to administer to the American public.
And even with those questions arguably answered, many still do not want to be among the first to take the first dose of the vaccine, preferring to wait and monitor news reports of how those who have already taken it fairing.
To counter much of this, Black churches who are perhaps the most trusted institutions - are being enlisted to sponsor vaccination days in their communities. In Raleigh, at least 16 Black churches have become sites for vaccinations.
In Guilford County, 3,800 vaccinations were offered this week by appointment at county clinics at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, as well as the Greensboro Coliseum, and High Point University Community Center.
CN Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church in Charlotte partnered with Atrium Health mobile vaccine clinic.
Prominent Black leaders, like NCNAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. T Anthony Spearman, are publicly getting their shots, and actively encouraging others in the community to get theirs, North Carolina is ramping up its administration of COVID-19 vaccinations, going beyond local health centers and hospitals, and sponsoring mass events in local stadiums and large locations that can hold tens of thousands of people at one time.
At least 300 Walgreens stores across North Carolina will also begin administering the vaccine as of Friday, Feb. 12th, to those 65 and older, healthcare workers, long-term care staff and residents.
Walk-ins are not accepted, so people are urged to go to Walgreens website to make an appointment.
Another pharmacy chain, CVS, will not be administering the COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina.