State data shows COVID-19 vaccine racial disparities

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 5:13 PM EST
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STATE, Mich. (WJRT) -(02/24/21)- “We know that everyone should be able to access these safe and effective vaccines regardless of their race or ethnicity, their income, if they have access to transportation, or if they live in a rural or urban part of the state,” said State Chief Medical Executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun.

But new state data suggests that hasn’t yet been the case for Black communities. The data shows a huge disparity in who has received COVID-19 vaccines in Michigan. According to the data released Tuesday--

43.7% are unknown.

41.7% are white.

9.5% are listed as other.

3.7% are Black.

Clarence Pierce is the CEO at Hamilton Community Health Network in Flint where about 54 percent of the population is Black. Pierce says he had hoped to see more positive numbers.

“Well, you know, I think they’re clearly some hesitancy on some people’s part, but also I think that the vaccine has to be available. You know, if the vaccine is available and people are hesitant, that’s fine because, you know, I just encourage people to get as much information as they can and do their own homework and research, so that they are comfortable with their decision,” Pierce said.

At Wednesday’s COVID-19 update briefing, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist who chairs the Michigan COVID-19 Task Force on Racial Disparities, addressed the data and the disparity.

“Upon seeing the initial data that was reported is clear. We need to continue our efforts to get more communities of color vaccinated, and close the gap in the data that has been reported,” Gilchrist said, “The data is a starting point. However, I do caution against jumping to premature conclusions. We don’t yet have the full picture.”

The state recently launched a COVID-19 vaccination strategy to get 70% of people age 16 and older vaccinated as quickly as possible to ensure all Michiganders have access to the vaccines.

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