About 75,000 people have been given at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Duval County.
Of those, just 11% are Black, despite African Americans making up 30% of the county’s population, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Those numbers reflect a larger trend in Florida and across the country, according to American University Professor of Public Policy Aparna Soni. “The disparities are particularly stark when you take into account not just the population, but also the fact that Blacks and Hispanics are dying of the coronavirus at higher rates than whites.”
In all states that report vaccination rates by ethnicity, Soni said, the share of vaccinations among African Americans is lower than their share of cases and deaths.
The vaccine disparities likely have two components, Soni said: Even before the coronavirus, racial and ethnic minorities had unequal access to health care, and unequal trust in the medical establishment.
People of color are more likely to be uninsured or under-insured, Soni said. “This matters because they’re less likely to receive recommended care. They’re more likely to delay care. They're less likely to have interaction with the healthcare system. They miss out on a lot of valuable information from health care providers.”
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry addressed the issue at a Thursday news conference. “We have had leaders in our city, and for that matter around the state and country, that have demonstrated the importance of this vaccine for all people, but there are people that have a natural tendency, based on history, to be concerned about the vaccine,” Curry said. “But it’s safe, and when it’s available to you, you should take it.”
Jacksonville Director of Community Affairs Dr. Charles Moreland said his goal was to get the vaccine to the city’s most vulnerable populations. “We’ve been looking at ways we can meet that goal, but we’re waiting on supply to be available to us. But rest assured that we understand the need in the community, and we’re doing everything in our power to make sure that we fulfill that need.”
Contact Sydney Boles at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.