ALTUS, Okla. (TNN) -Racial disparities are creating obstacles in the fight against COVID-19 as research shows minorities are far less likely to get the vaccine.
From the data collected in Oklahoma, 65.9% of people receiving the vaccine are white, and only 2.7% are black.
The other races represented were Asian, American Indian and other, which were all less than 4 percent.
“So if we see that we have a population that’s not taking advantage or receiving a service at the level that we think that they maybe should, then we need to dive a little bit deeper and figure out what those challenges are,” said Brandie Combs, Regional Health Department Director.
According to the CDC, Blacks, Latinos, and American Indians are experiencing hospitalizations at rates about four times higher than non-Hispanic whites.
“We’ve got to combat that, and the only way for us to do that is to really advocate for them to take this vaccine,” said Rosalyn Hall, minority advocate and health department employee.
Hall believes the apprehension from the minority community to get vaccinated is due to fear and lack of trust.
“In the climate that we’re in right now, it’s a little hard to totally trust right now,” said Hall. “I think we have a lot of different factors that are pulling at us right now as minorities. But at the end of the day, we really need to take care of ourselves and our health.”
Also in the data recorded, 23.7% of people vaccinated in Oklahoma registered as unknown for their race or ethnicity. Combs says it’s important to fill that out correctly, so they have more accurate data.
“We want to make sure that we’re entering the data correctly as far as when people come in, and we ask all of those questions as screening questions,” said Combs. “In order to protect our communities, we need to provide this vaccine to everyone. so we don’t want to put any sort of barrier or burden unnecessary burden on a particular population to access the vaccine we want everyone in our community to have access to it.”
Hall says she’s got both doses and felt fine, other than a sore arm. She’s hoping to set an example for her kids, and for others in the community.
“I just want to really advocate for the minorities to definitely get this,” said Hall. “There is no reason for us not to take this vaccine. It’s proven, the science is behind it. And that we just need to set an example.”