African-Americans struggling to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF)- The vaccine has been on many people’s minds lately.
From weighing their options, to finding a vaccination site.
But, new data shows African-Americans have not been receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as much as their white counterparts.
For nearly a year, we have heard how COVID-19 has been affecting the black community. Now that we have a vaccine, data shows that only 6% of African-Americans around the nation have received the shot and that includes the 8% of African-Americans right here in Hamilton County.
So, why are African Americans receiving their vaccine at such a slower rate when it has infected their community the most?
Dr. Anthony Harris, the Associate Medical Director for WorkCare says, “That perception is borne out of the history of America right? The Tuskegee experiment is something that comes to mind in regards to why there is this distrust in these communities.”
From 1932 until 1972 The United States Government conducted the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.
According to the CDC, hundreds of black men were told that they were receiving treatment for the disease and they were not.
Instead, researchers watched the men and the effect that the disease had on their bodies.
The study was supposed to last 6 months but went on for 40 years.
Officials say that distrust may not be the only reason why African-Americans are reluctant to get the vaccine.
“If we look at these communities, there is likely not a CVS or a Walgreens down the street and so leveraging the infrastructure that is widely available in other communities may not be the same play that needs to access the vaccine in the under served communities, the black and brown communities for sure”, adds Dr. Harris.
Bill Ulmer, with the Hamilton County Health Department, says, “We know that there is an issue here with vaccine equity. So, we are trying to address that.”
The Hamilton County Health Department has been working with under served communities throughout the pandemic—hosting flu shot drives and COVID testing sites.
Now, the initiative will continue through African-American churches.
“Many of those same churches and many many more have joined us and partnered with us so that we can work with their congregation and ensure that those that want the vaccine have access to the vaccine”, adds Ulmer.
The Hamilton County Health department has been working with pastors around the county to sign up eligible citizens to receive the vaccine as well as partner with CARTA to provide transportation in some cases.