NCDHHS COVID-19 dashboard adds vaccination data, numbers highlight racial disparities

Vaccination data highlights racial disparities

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New vaccination data added to the state health department’s COVID-19 dashboard shows the extent of racial disparity among those receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.

New vaccination data added to the state health department’s COVID-19 dashboard shows the extent of racial disparity among those receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.
New vaccination data added to the state health department’s COVID-19 dashboard shows the extent of racial disparity among those receiving COVID-19 vaccinations. (Source: NCDHHS)

Statewide, 80% of first doses have been administered to white people.

The state’s population was last reported to be about 63% white and 21% Black or African-American.

The above graph shows 13% of first doses administered in North Carolina were given to Black or African-Americans.

In a press release Friday, NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said “North Carolina continues to lead the country on data transparency with a focus on race and ethnicity data. More importantly, we use this critical data to drive our vaccine operations work to ensure equity across our state.”

It also says:

The state is committed to holding itself and vaccine providers accountable for providing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. The current allocation process includes a three-week guaranteed baseline amount of vaccines for counties with higher numbers of low-income adults 65 and older and historically marginalized populations 65 and older. In addition to the baseline allocations, NCDHHS has set-aside approximately 30,000 vaccine doses for community vaccination events and new providers that will reach underserved communities.

Earlier this week, racial disparities were directly addressed during WECT’s expert panel discussion on the vaccine.

New Hanover County’s Chief Diversity and Equity Officer, Linda Thompson, said:

”33% percent of African Americans in our community live in poverty. 33%. That says that we have a poverty issue in New Hanover County and that means that we’ve got to do a better job of reaching out to those individuals who do not have access to a lot of the resources that many of us have. They don’t have internet. They don’t have transportation.”

She said grassroots efforts are being used to reach them.

“We’ve got to use the resources necessary to get into those communities,” she said. “That means we can’t just send them an email because they don’t have the means to receive it. We’ve got to go to the neighborhoods, their churches, and talk to their pastors, their neighbors, their community leaders.”

NHRMC’s Chief Physician, Dr. Philip Brown, advocates for making vaccine distribution equitable.

In a video message from the North Carolina Medical Society, he said “COVID-19 has disproportionately affected communities of color with disparate rates of infection and death across the country. As we enter a phase of preventive vaccination with the power to eliminate this pandemic, we have to make sure that there is equitable access and at times preferential access to life-saving vaccines for those most adversely affected.”

Dr. Brown, Thompson and other community activists have worked to overcome barriers to healthcare, including transportation and internet access, with events at churches and other organizations.

[Outreach efforts bring vaccines to black community]

“We’ve been able to vaccinate — close to 1,400 minorities in our community.” Thompson said. “That’s about 10% of individuals we’ve already given — first and second doses to.”

Dr. Brown says NHRMC is committed to eliminating racial disparities in vaccine distribution by the first day of spring, which is March 21st. His team is working on tabulating their own metrics to measure when this is accomplished.

You can find demographic information broken down for all of North Carolina’s 100 counties on the dashboard here.

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