Disparities remain in Mid-South COVID-19 vaccinations

Disparities remain in Mid-South vaccine rollout

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Three months into the vaccine rollout and racial and ethnic disparities remain among groups getting vaccinated.

For instance, data shows that while Blacks make up 17 percent of Tennessee’s population, they make up just 9 percent of people who’ve been vaccinated, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

That’s a slight improvement from 7 percent a few weeks ago.

Hispanics make up almost 6 percent of Tennessee’s population but only 2 percent of people who’ve been vaccinated.

Tennessee Department of Health discusses expanding vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older

Compare those numbers to white Tennesseans, who account for 71 percent of the vaccinations that have been administered and 78 percent of the population.

It’s a nationwide problem.

New campaigns are underway to reach different groups who have been hesitant to get the vaccine.

One campaign, for instance, is from the KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) and the Black Coalition Against COVID.

It features Black doctors, nurses and scientists answering questions and addressing concerns many have.

On Monday, the state of Tennessee expanded vaccine eligibility because the demand for the vaccines hasn’t been as high as officials would like.

Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey says some of the data has been surprising, like hesitancy from rural Tennesseans.

Piercey says it’s not clear why rural Tennesseans have been hesitant, but she says research is underway to identify underlying reasons for their hesitancy.

All Tennesseans 16+ eligible for COVID-19 vaccine starting April 5

Efforts are also being made to reach them and the other groups who’ve been hesitant.

“Sometimes people just need a little bit longer to get used to the idea,” said Piercey. “They see their friends and family get vaccinated and then they come around.”

Data from the Tennessee Department of Health also shows women are getting vaccinated at higher rates than men.

Women make up 59 percent of those who’ve been vaccinated so far.

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