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The Great Health Divide: Efforts underway to increase vaccination rates in minority communities

(Source: Gray Television)
Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 6:26 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The coronavirus pandemic greatly impacted African American communities. However, many minority groups make up low percentages of those vaccinated.

The Louisiana Department of Health released new information regarding vaccine shots administered. Region Six, which encompasses Central Louisiana parishes, shows 14% of residents as fully vaccinated. Of that 14%, more than 60% are white, compared to about 27% of black residents.

Vaccination numbers for African-Americans and other ethnic groups are behind in other health regions throughout the state.

The Alexandria NAACP Chapter President, Jack Henton, believes racism plays a role.

“Right now, because of system racism, we have lack of access to health, lack of access to quality food here in Alexandria,” Henton said.

He said many black residents live in neighborhoods declared food deserts- restricting their access to fresh fruits, vegetables and meats.

He also said communication barriers could be the reason for low vaccination rates for black communities and those in rural areas. He believes reaching people with factual information can help stop another surge.

“This is a problem that’s also impacting rural America as well,” he said. “White folks out in the rural area, just not having the information in front of them to make informed decisions that they need to make.”

In March, the state health department launched Bring Back Louisiana #SleevesUp. The grassroots campaign targets communities of concern and organizes mass vaccination events.

Henton said those efforts could help get more people vaccinated, but he also wants officials to take steps to reach the younger population.

“I think when it comes to communication, we’ve been utilizing the traditional media outlets like radio and television,” he said. “But let’s face it, young Americans, Gen Xers, millennials are primarily on social media.”

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