JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Black and Latino Americans are falling behind in the nationwide race to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
So far, the data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows just 5% of the doses available have gone to Black Americans and 11% to Latinos. The available data suggests the underserved communities are being bypassed.
Locally, the issue seems to be one of access. Many in Jacksonville’s Black communities say the venues where vaccines have been administered were places they couldn’t easily get to, either because they lacked personal transportation, didn’t have someone to help them get there or taking public transportation just wasn’t a realistic possibility.
Mayor Lenny Curry, surrounded by members of City Council, announced Thursday a new initiative that begins this morning to make the vaccine available in Northwest Jacksonville at the Clanzel T. Brown Senior Center on Moncrief Road.
The doses available are limited, but Curry said he is making every effort to secure more and expand to other sites in minority communities in Jacksonville.
On The Morning Show on Friday, Curry said he’s been told by state and federal officials that they are working with faith leaders in the community to get vaccines to them also.
“The city wants to secure vaccine because we have demonstrated that we can do this in a very efficient and responsible way. We can open a site like that (snaps fingers) when we get access,” Curry said. “That being said, anytime any facility gets the vaccine (and) they can distribute it to the people of our city, we should all celebrate that. This is not about who gets the credit. This is about getting the supplies here and getting it to the people of our city.”
[WATCH: Press play at the top of this article for Mayor Curry’s full interview]
He said his team is on the phone every day reaching out to officials so they can get doses whenever they become available.
Curry also acknowledged that many in the Black community are wary of the vaccine and applauded local African-American leaders for publicly getting the shots to encourage others that it’s safe.
“(Councilman) Sam Newby got this COVID early -- way back in March/April timeframe -- and he told a story yesterday -- he’s an African-American, and at one point, he thought he wasn’t going to make it, so he is speaking out and encouraging everyone (that) when you have access to this vaccine, please take it.”
Curry urged everyone not to allow vaccine distribution to become a divisive political issue.
“I believe that every leader wants to get people vaccinated and the people of our country safe,” he said. “And we ought to just work together.”