(NBC News) – As COVID-19 vaccine distribution expands across the country, there are growing calls to ensure it’s being done equitably and that shots are going into the arms that need them most.
Still, available data so far shows Black and Latino Americans account for smaller shares of vaccinations compared with cases and deaths in those communities.
Reverend Gregory Lingham hoped to set a good example for his parishioners at a recent 24-hour vaccination event in Philadelphia hosted by the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium. They’re serving some of the city’s hardest hit neighborhoods.
“If I come out as a preacher, then maybe my constituents will see that I’m doing it, and maybe they’ll come out and do it,” he says.
Community leaders and events like the clinic in Philadelphia are critical according to health experts addressing COVID-19 health disparities.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, by mid-February in California Hispanic Americans comprised more than half of cases and 46-percent of deaths, yet accounted for just 18-percent of vaccinations.
In Virginia, Black residents made up 12-percent of vaccinations at that same point in time, versus nearly a quarter of deaths.
Not all states and regions track race and ethnicity vaccine distribution, something that worries health experts.
The more complete the data, the faster inequalities can be identified and addressed.
Chicago shifted its approach, adding temporary vaccination centers and collaborating with community leaders, after initial numbers showed black and latino residents accounted for just 18-percent of vaccinations.
A month later, a seven day snapshot showed a much different picture.
“50-percent, 50-percent of COVID-19 vaccines went to Black and LatinX residents,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot reported.
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