RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - While North Carolina has seen the number of COVID-19 vaccines going to Black residents increase in recent weeks, Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday that the state still needs to do more to address the racial disparity.
“Some Black and Brown citizens may distrust the vaccine and I understand based on longstanding and continuing racial and ethnic injustices in our healthcare system,” said Charles Evans, President of NC Association of Black County Officials. “I trust the vaccine because they have been tested. They are safe and effective.”
Governor Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen have their focus set on marginalized groups that have not been given easy access to the vaccine. Only 13 percent of vaccines have gone into the arms of Black people even though they make up 21 percent of the state’s population.
“Remember, change starts with each of us,” said Evans. “Change starts with rolling up our sleeves, sticking out our arms and taking our shot. The impact will be felt by our entire community and beyond.”
During a news conference, Cooper said that last week 18 percent of the state’s vaccines were administered to Black residents, up from 11 percent four weeks ago.
“This is an improvement, but there is more work to be done when North Carolina’s population is 22 percent Black,” Cooper said. “Also in our LatinX community, vaccination rates have been especially low.”
Cooper also said that North Carolina will see a five percent increase in vaccine doses coming from the federal government.
“We know there’s still not enough vaccine supply to vaccinate the millions of people who need it,” he said. “We’re pushing for more. And today on a call with the Biden Administration’s coronavirus team we were told NC would get another five percent increase in vaccine supply this week.”
The state is still stuck on groups one and two as thousands in those groups are still waiting for their chance to get the vaccine — but there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
“If Johnson and Johnson’s authorization goes through, we’ll have more vaccines, so we’ll have more people to get it,” said Gov. Cooper. “Walgreens is a separate program by the federal government. They have a number of their stores getting, I think, a hundred doses each that comes from a separate allocation.”
Still, residents in places like Brunswick County are struggling to make it to a clinic before doses run out, and they want answers.
“As far as Brunswick, I know our team just yesterday or the day before, had a call with all our vaccinating providers and other representatives from Brunswick County to make sure we were understanding the situation on the ground,” said Dr. Cohen.
As for the question of teachers getting vaccinated, the governor is still adamant about getting kids back in school. He says he’ll have a date on when group three can start getting vaccinated later this week.
“This team is working on some precise dates that we’ll be able to give the providers as to when we can move to essential front-line workers,” said Gov. Cooper. “This week, we will be giving you that information after the team has talked to providers and worked through it.”
Cooper also issued an Executive Order that will give the NC Department of Health and Human Services the authority to expand the types of providers that can administer vaccines.
According to NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, 1.4 million does of the vaccine have been administered in North Carolina.