Black Belt residents rolling up their sleeves for COVID-19 vaccinations

Mar 20, 2021

The Alabama Department of Public Health says the State’s Black Belt region has the highest percentage of people getting COVID-19 vaccinations. ADPH just released the first county numbers for the percentage of people over age 16 that have received a shot. Alabama Public Radio has been focusing coverage on the disparities related to the coronavirus, both on which communities are being hit particularly hard, and those areas having a hard time getting a COVID-19 vaccination.

Back in June, APR reported on numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fifty five percent of coronavirus patients in the U.S. are African American or Hispanic. APR spoke with Dr. Brittany Anderson, who practices at University Medical Center in Tuscaloosa. She says minorities have less access to medical care due to economic disadvantage, and the State needs to address this.

“You’ve got to think about workforce development,” said Dr. Anderson. “So, workforce development is going to be essential in getting people back to work once this is over, but also providing sustainable work for people, particularly the minority population.”

Dr. Anderson says minorities are more likely to suffer from health conditions like diabetes and obesity which can make a case of COVID-19 worse. She says minorities frequently live in poverty which means they can’t afford a healthy diet and regular visits to the doctor. Anderson says action needs to be taken to help.

“Ideally, we’d be able need to bring corporations, larger corporations, into these some of these rural areas to provide jobs as well. But, also what plays into that is housing, transportation, and other issues to create a stable economy among the population.”

On the new numbers pointing up the high rate of Black Belt vaccinations, State Health Officer Scott Harris says there’s still an overall racial disparity in who is getting vaccinations. Across Alabama about 15% of shots have gone to Black citizens who make up about 26% of the population, according to preliminary numbers.