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

Vaccinating communities in need

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.

Now, many local organizations are making sure underserved communities and minority groups have equal access to the vaccine.

Latin American Coalition says the registration process to make an appointment can be one of the most challenging parts.

People in underserved communities might not have access to a computer or the internet, and sometimes a language barriers prevent them 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 but the numbers don’t match that yet in the state.

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

If vaccine distribution was perfectly equal compared to demographics, they should represent closer to 9 percent of people vaccinated.

People are who are Black or African American make up 23.1 percent of the total population, but only 17.1 percent 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 not partnering with community groups in the first place. Now health leaders are trying to catch up.

“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.

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