Whitehaven residents get vaccinated as health dept. looks to close racial gap

Whitehaven residents get vaccinated as health dept. looks to close racial gap

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Helen Woods has been looking forward to this moment since the pandemic began.

On Saturday, the retired nurse rolled up her sleeves to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“This virus has touched my family personally,” she said. “Thank God for us being able to have a vaccine.”

Woods was vaccinated at Southwest Tennessee Community College’s Whitehaven Center at 1234 Finley Road.

The Shelby County Health Department teamed up with the school to host the vaccination site, where people with an appointment can drive up or walk in to get their vaccine.

The site was set up in Whitehaven, a predominately Black community, to help address a racial disparity.

The health department said 50 percent of the vaccines given to people age 75 and older have gone to white people.

Just 11 percent have gone to Blacks.

Less than one percent of the vaccines have been administered to Latinos.

Dr. Judy Martin with the Shelby County Health Department said they are focusing on equity and access.

Martin said it seems people in Whitehaven are eager to get the vaccine.

All of the available appointments for this month have already been booked.

“People are concerned about the coronavirus. They want protection, and we’re concerned to make certain we can provide the vaccine to those people who want the vaccine,” said Martin.

Martin said around 500 people were vaccinated on Friday, the first day the Whitehaven site opened.

She said the goal is to vaccinate about 500 each day.

Helen Woods is happy she was able to get her first dose and hopes many others who live in Whitehaven will follow.

“We need to rely on science, facts, no fiction,” said Woods. “Let’s just do the right thing. Protect yourself, get your vaccine. The life you save may be your own.”

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