Minority vaccination rates are climbing, but doctors say there’s still work to do

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Vaccination rates for Black and LatinX communities are on the rise compared to the initial rollout in earlier this year.

But those numbers are still low compared to White Americans, according to nationwide data.

explains what minority doctors are doing to vaccinate their communities as the delta variant rages on.

Some minority doctors say the first barrier is recognizing that vaccine concerns are different for different races. In the Black community, some say the hesitation comes from a history of racism intertwined with healthcare. But for the LatinX community, there are immigration concerns and fears of deportation.

In North Carolina, there’s group of Black women doctors from WakeMed Health in Raleigh who are taking the COVID-19 vaccine to the most vulnerable in the neighborhood.

They call themselves the ‘Sister Circle’ and they’ve vaccinated 14,000 but their work is far from over.

“It’s never enough, right? We’re always suffering disproportionately,” said Dr. Michele Benoit-Wilson, WakeMed Health and the ‘Sister Circle.’

Dr. Benoit-Wilson said some vaccination hesitation in the Black community stems from a history of feeling ignored by the healthcare system.

“Community members were very clear with me that they’re asking well, why now? What’s the difference now? Why weren’t you coming door to door and asking me whether or not I was getting my insulin medication?” explained Dr. Benoit-Wilson. “Why weren’t you coming door to door and asking? How, you know, how are teaching me and talking to me about controlling my hypertension? What’s the urgency now?”

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey shows in states where race is recorded with vaccination data, 50 percent of White Americans have gotten least one shot since August 16. That’s followed by 45 percent of Hispanic people and only 40 percent of Black people.

On the West Coast, Dr. Hector Flores said TV, Spanish radio and even social media are reaching the LatinX community.

He said they’ve also seen kids leading the way.

“When children 12 and older got approved, they were bringing their parents, because now the parents realize, you know, I have a responsibility for this child, even if I don’t believe in the vaccine, or I don’t think it’s conveniently available. They saw that obligation,” said Dr. Flores, White Memorial Medical center in California.

Some minority doctors are hopeful when people get their booster shot, they will bring a friend or a loved to get their first shot if they aren’t vaccinated yet.

“I think people are realizing ‘Oh, okay, you know, it’s not enough that other people in my family have gotten vaccinated, I really need to get vaccinated myself’,” said Dr. Benoit-Wilson.

You can find additional resources here: THE CONVERSATION / LA CONVERSACIÓN (greaterthancovid.org)