CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Historically marginalized communities are falling behind more affluent areas in Mecklenburg County when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations.
According to new data from the county, people living in the center of the county in communities, including South Park and Elizabeth, are being vaccinated at a much higher rate than those in areas like east Charlotte.
The northern and southern tips, including places like Cornelius and Ballantyne, are also further ahead.
West Charlotte is also on the lower end.
County leaders say this is not surprising because it follows trends they saw with testing earlier in the pandemic.
But it is concerning, and posing a challenge in how to reach these vulnerable communities.
On Monday, StarMed opened its third vaccine site in the county at their Central Avenue clinic in east Charlotte.
It is in 28212, which is the zip code with the lowest vaccination rate in the county at just 20 percent.
By comparison, 28207 in Myers Park has the highest rate at 71 percent.
William Dorsey got his first dose at StarMed on Central Avenue, but many people in his neighborhood are hesitant.
“Sometimes they hear something that’s bad and they don’t want to jump on the wagon of doing what everyone says to do,” Dorsey said.
Half of some of the biggest vaccination sites in Mecklenburg County is in east Charlotte, including Bojangles Coliseum, Novant Health East Meck and now StarMed.
“It’s not for a lack of access,” Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said.
Harris said they’ve tried several strategies, but it has not been enough.
“We have been intentionally having smaller clinics in those areas with a number of different churches and organizations to be accessible to the population,” she said.
Now they’re refocusing by working with community leaders and sending volunteers from these communities to go door to door to reach people.
“We’ve got to listen to the community, ways that they’ll come out,” District 4 County Commissioner Mark Jerrell told WBTV.
“Every organization, every individual,” he said. “We should be talking vaccinations in every sentence that we are stating. This is not something that can be government-run and government-led and government alone. This is all hands on deck.”
According to Harris, volunteers from Action NC started going door to door in east Charlotte today.
She says they were trained on the data and safety of vaccines on Friday.
Action NC and the county are also organizing a vaccine event at the old Eastland Mall site on May 15th.