News

February 2021

Advocates push Ohio for better vaccination distribution efforts for Black community

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — As the state’s vaccine rollout continues, some community advocates feel there is not enough being done to help vaccinate the Black community.

“The seven Urban League affiliates here in the state of Ohio, we sent Gov. DeWine a letter earlier this week basically asking him to re-prioritize, not to take away from other vulnerable populations but to re-prioritize the distribution of the vaccine in the Black community,” said Stephanie Hightower, president and CEO of the Columbus Urban League.

Hightower said she hopes for better distribution efforts.

“They need to re-prioritize the formula so that those front-line workers are part of the vaccine process now and especially those Black people that are front line workers,” said Hightower.

The state put together a Minority Health Vaccine Advisory Group and a Minority Health Strike Force to help the Black community to trust the vaccine.

“Basically, they’re not really following their recommendations that the task force put in place in a timely manner,” said Hightower.

Gov. DeWine started an education campaign targeting the minority community. But it’s still in progress and hasn’t fully launched.

The Ohio Department of Health is also working with Medicaid to get people who want a vaccine to the vaccination sites. The state also held three vaccine clinics Friday at three affordable housing complexes for seniors in Columbus.

But without enough education, Hightower worries not enough people will want to get the vaccine.

“If you don’t start now, then you’re putting these vaccination sites in senior citizen facilities and those congregate living facilities but if they’re not educated and don’t know whether or not they want to take the vaccine, then you’re not going to have the kinds of numbers,” said Hightower. “We know that disproportionately if you’re collecting that data, you would see that Black and brown people are not taking the vaccine.”

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