CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – In an effort to get as many people vaccinated, people of color and minority communities are still trailing at the bottom of the list. In the Mountain State, the numbers are extremely low and aren’t improving much.
“Overall, and talking to people there’s still a big hesitation on getting the vaccine, especially among our people, especially among our youth,” said Bishop Robert Haley, Pastor of A More Excellent Way of Life Church.
According to the West Virginia DHHR, only 5.5% of Kanwaha County’s African American population is fully vaccinated or have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That number is up half a percent from two months ago. Hispanics, Asians and other minority groups have 3.6% of the population vaccinated and 4.0% have had one dose.
“What we found that was more of how people are treated now by the health care system rather than something that happened in the past,” Rev. James Patterson, CEO of the Partnership of African American Churches said.
Advocates are trying to get those vaccination numbers higher to get the pandemic behind us, now focusing on teens.
“We’re really going to be pushing our youth and helping the parents understand about this,” Bishop Haley said.
Just like when 16 and up were eligible to get the vaccine, West Virginia Health Right will be partnering with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department to make getting vaccinated convenient.
“Every middle school is getting the opportunity for sure to get the vaccine and reaching every child,” Angie Settle, West Virginia Health Right said.
Patterson said he’s going to stick with what he knows to encourage more minorities to take the shot.
“We’ve been around for 20 years, so people know us and know who we are. They trusted us and so that was the way we were able to get and continue to get people of color vaccinated,” Rev. Patterson said.
Community leaders say the biggest problem is that many seniors on Charleston’s west side don’t have transportation to get vaccinated. That’s why churches on the west side have agreed to make their locations vaccination sites.