FLORIDA, USA — It's been a topic of conversation even before vaccines were available - getting coronavirus shots to communities of color.
It's a priority because they’re more likely to have limited access to vaccines. People of color are also more likely to die from COVID compared to white people.
So, where does Florida rank when it comes to vaccine equity?
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of February 1st, Black Floridians make up 6 percent of vaccinations. However, they account for 16 percent of COVID-related deaths. As a whole, Black people make up 16 percent of Florida's total population.
White people make up 76 percent of Florida vaccinations, but only account for 55 percent of deaths. And, 75 percent of Florida's total population is white.
There is a state-wide effort to get vaccines into communities of color by connecting with churches and other community partners. Washington C. Hill, M.D. is a longtime doctor in Sarasota and currently practices at CenterPlace Health. He's in support of bringing the vaccines to the people as much as possible.
"We need to make it convenient. We need to make it easy. There’s going to be some vaccines given out at Publix. Well in a food desert, there’s no Publix," said Dr. Hill, who was on site when vaccines were administered in Newton, a predominantly Black neighborhood in Sarasota.
"When the vaccine was given in Newtown, I went up and just said hello and talked to them, answered their questions, and that made them feel better," he said.
According to the Florida Department of Health's latest vaccine report published on Feb. 14, Black people make up 0.95 percent of vaccinations in Sarasota County. According to Florida Census Data from Jul. 1, 2019, Black people make up 4.7 percent of the county's total population.
In Hillsborough County, health leaders continue to roll out their Targeted Vaccine Area (TVA) initiative.
The program allows for staff to visit and vaccinate seniors at senior homes, independent living communities, churches, and other targeted groups throughout the county.
So far, they have taken vaccines to 43 high risk locations and intend to keep expanding the program as long as they get the vaccine supply.
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