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Wisconsinites of color being vaccinated at significantly lower rates

Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 10:23 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -Black Americans are receiving the coronavirus vaccine at much lower rates than White Americans, according to health officials.

The latest data from the CDC shows only about 5% of Black Americans have received their COVID-19 vaccination shot. This despite alarming rates of infections, hospitalizations, and death in communities of color.

Dr. Sheryl Henderson is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Infectious diseases at UW-Madsion’s School of Public Health. She encourages all people get vaccinated when it’s their turn but also understands why some people of color may be hesitant.

From vaccine myths to historical medical mistreatment, there are many reasons why the racial gap remains.

“There really is a lot of very well deserved mistrust in the health care system,” said Dr. Henderson.

Less than 3.5% of Black Wisconsinites have received the vaccine so far. Same goes for Hispanics according the latest data from DHS.

Dr. Henderson points to a predominantly White population of health care workers in Wisconsin as one explanation for this but says as vaccine eligibility grows, it will take some creativity to get people of color vaccinated.

Dr. Henderson, who has received her full vaccination series encourages education. She says be aware that this pandemic is something we’ve never seen before and information available changes rapidly. She says this doesn’t mean you can’t trust it. She says ultimately it will take time to bridge the gaps.

“Have the facts about the vaccine in terms of how safe is it, how effective is it,” she said.

Monday, DHS announced a plan to invest more than $6 million to promote equity in vaccine distribution across Wisconsin.

Public Health Madison Dane County is also focused on the issue. PHMDC says its implementing an outreach plan to help increase transparency and foster equitable access to information about the vaccine in communities of color.

Sarah Mattes, PHMDC Communications Manager told NBC15 that the goal is to ensure Black and Brown communities feel empowered to make informed decisions about vaccination.

Both agencies say they will work with communities organizations more closely toward these efforts.

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