Local groups work to help underserved, minority communities get equal access to vaccine

Updated: Apr. 5, 2021 at 7:36 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Starting on Wednesday, every adult, and some teenagers, in North Carolina are going to be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. But although access is expanding, it doesn’t always means there’s equal access.

Now, many local organizations are making sure underserved communities and minority groups have the same access to the vaccine as the rest of the population.

But there are challenges when it comes to signing up for the vaccine in some communities. The Latin American Coalition says the registration process to make an appointment can be one of the most challenging parts.

The LAC says some people in underserved communities might not have access to a computer or the internet, which is where a majority of vaccine sign ups take place. If they do have access to a computer, sometimes language barriers prevent people from signing up correctly.

“We think a vaccination is just going get a vaccine, but there’s a whole process of questions that take place,” said the executive director of Latin American Coalition, Jose Hernandez-Paris.

The Latin American Coalition in Charlotte’s been working since the beginning to educate the Latinx community on vaccines and make sure the percentage of vaccinated Latinx reflect the state’s population.

According to NC Department of Health and Human Services, people who are Hispanic make up 9.8% of the state’s population, but they are only 5.1% of all people vaccinated.

If vaccine distribution reflect the state’s demographics, the Latinx community should represent closer to 9% of people vaccinated.

People are who are Black or African American make up 23.1% of the total population, but only 17.1% of people vaccinated.

“Charlotte is a rapidly growing city and we have a great diversity in our city,” said Hernandez-Paris.

He said the mistake was that health leaders didn’t partner with community groups in the first place. If they did, he believes the vaccine numbers would reflect the state’s population better.

“By working with us, the community can actually come and get vaccinated. I think it’s a learning experience and I think one of those is connected with community-based organizations a lot quicker,” Hernandez-Paris said.

The organization is now in the early stages of planning more vaccine clinics for underserved and minority communities. They hope to one day be able to hold an ongoing vaccination clinic at the Latin American Coalition headquarters to make getting the vaccine even easier for the community they serve.

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