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Pop-up clinic addresses vaccination disparity among races

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 11:00 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A pop-up clinic in Madison sought to tackle a disparity in statewide COVID-19 vaccination rates, which put Black Wisconsinites last among racial groups.

SSM Health and nine community partners serving the Black population offered the clinic Tuesday afternoon.

Nearly 44 percent of white and Asian Wisconsinites have received at least one dose of the vaccine Tuesday, according to a dashboard by the Department of Health Services. American Indians followed, with 30 percent vaccinated. Black residents came last among the racial groups listed; only 23 percent have been vaccinated.

The clinic, hosted by the Urban League of Greater Madison, hoped to challenge the reasons that have kept many people from getting COVID shots. Some said barriers include vaccine myths.

“One or two big ones [are] population control and microchips for tracking,” firefighter paramedic Brandon Jones said, on the examples he heard from his friends. “It doesn’t make sense to me, but it makes perfect sense to them, so that’s why we’re here.”

Dr. Ruben Anthony, the president of the Urban League, said barriers also include a historical distrust of the health care system, as well as transportation.

He added, “But I believe that the Department of Health Services, the governor and our public health officials have done a good job in making it available to communities and bringing the vaccination into communities like this here today.”

Devin Evans, who is Black, got his first shot at the Urban League. He said he tried getting the vaccine two other times at different locations but walked away from them. “They [weren’t] pleasant to me,” he explained.

When tackling the vaccination discrepancy among races, Jenny Bothun, a regional manager at SSM Health, said there should be “shared accountability.”

“It really is on us as a health care system to make sure that we do all we can to reach out to those populations,” she said. “We owe it to every member of society that’s eligible to get them vaccinated and meet them where they are so that they feel comfortable.”

Sometimes, the reason for waiting to get the shot, can fall on something as simple as scheduling.

“I don’t believe there was a barrier,” Tre Burnette said after he got vaccinated. “There were places like Alliant Energy Center or places around our community that offered them. It just wasn’t a high priority for me to get it done.”

The community groups that contributed to this clinic, according to SSM, include the Urban League of Greater Madison, Mount Zion Baptist Church, Fountain of Life Covenant Church, African American Health Network of Dane County, Madison Black Chamber of Commerce, the Wisconsin Faith Voices Network, the Sable Flames, the NAACP of Dane County and Worker Justice Wisconsin.

SSM Health said it will bring vaccine clinics to school districts next. According to a spokesperson, the clinic will be at the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District on Wednesday then in Baraboo next week.

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