BLACK VACS MATTER: WHY BLACKS SHOULD GET VACCINATED

CNC SPECIAL REPORT

By Marty Lyn  – Part One

Black America is inequitably still lagging in COVID-19 vaccinations. According to responses from grass-roots citizens, medical specialists and social-realists, reasons are multistoried and many. Including fears borne of ‘I don’t trust the government’, and the reasonable hesitancy that accepting unproven medical treatment ‘just feels unhealthy’.

But for black folks who decided COVID-19 vaccine is the best chance to survive this pandemic, a great frustration remains. Why have injections been unfairly slow-coming and delayed too long for many who’ve been anxious to roll up their sleeves?

Let’s call it what it is. Undeniable ethnic discrimination. Magnify this to include confusion around the lack of Corona Virus facts which originally, were frankly, shielded from everyone with race not being a factor. Even the experts admit now they, too, were shrouded in ignorance.

Black Vacs Matter. “Difficult” and “messy” have described the processes to obtain injections, especially for many who reside in inner cities.

Locally, at the outset, the challenges matched what has occurred nationwide. It is important to acknowledge that recently, however, Chattanooga vaccine circumstances are much improved. Vaccine availability is upped … still not the case worldwide unfortunately … but yes, shots are arriving high-pace within Hamilton County. Even so, Black Chattanooga remains behind in actually getting shots in arms.

COVID-19 vaccination numbers tabulated by the Hamilton County Health Department shift daily and are calculated weekly. As of March 24th, data below reflects combined 1st or 2nd doses into arms of White vs. Black residents. As of March 24th, 149,278 total COVID-19 doses were administered to Hamilton County residents.

White          23%

Black          16%

As of March 28th, there have been 42,405 cases and 473 deaths from COVID-19 in Hamilton County. Of that number of cumulative deaths,  27% were black. Black African Americans comprise 19.3% of the total county population.

Stay mindful that blacks are more vulnerable, medically underserved, and those with chronic medical conditions are at greater risk of serious illness, complications and death from COVID-19.

* Each Wednesday, detailed data including race; male/female; age ranges; other races-ethnicities and more is updated and posted on:

health.hamiltontn.org

ap the square box which reads:

COVID-19 Vaccine Data Dashboard

Hold Steady to the Guidelines    

If not curbed, COVID-19 cases will again soar and put into jeopardy what was looking hopefully somewhat like heading back toward normalcy. If mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing is ignored, it is unlikely that Herd Immunity will ever be achieved.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC warns, “If we don’t control this, we could be on the cusp of an entirely new surge toward an epidemic.” New cases are reported worldwide daily, and still COVID-19 deaths are being charted. Statistics remain devastating. Nearly sixty-thousand new infections are reported daily. This dents the good news that over 500-million had begun or completed vaccinations as of March 27th.

Bottom line, scant and sporadic efforts toward vaccination outreach for blacks occur with far less fervor than for whites, despite the greater socioeconomic and psycho-sociological need for just the opposite. Basically, during this pandemic, the ‘Have and Have Not’ syndrome is sadly reflected aboard the COVID-19 Inoculation Train. In the typical ways that match-up with other systematic disenfranchisements, which always leave blacks languishing at the back of the line.

We ALL have to get real … real quick … and ALL push up on why ‘Black Vacs Matter’. Otherwise, NONE of us can ever expect to breathe a safe breath.

Many outreach methods DO NOT  require Face-to-Face contact. Masking and Social Distancing supposedly still remain mandatory in most places until CDC guidelines change. Whenever that might be. But alas, city-state-local officials call rank and open municipalities despite COVID-19 cases continue going back on the rise.

Obviously, actual connection is necessary for some, EVEN FOR THOSE FULLY VACCINATED. Front line workers, educators, caregivers, etc. continue bearing risks and a brunt of the COVID-19 battle. But ANYONE is able to press ‘Black Vacs Matter’ if we want to get back to our lives.

A few suggestions include:

>  church leaders, where black folks congregate/communicate, get  more proactive with parishioners about why black vacs matter

>  self-designated volunteer teams can outreach black communities through neighborhood association hook-ups and pass info, and also assist with scheduling vaccinations

>  businesses – not ONLY black-owned but definitely black-owned – should strategize on helping with vaccine appointments for their patrons. What about a little give-back to those who’ve supported you?

>  similar to delivering Souls to Polls to vote, already-inoculated drivers can offer transportation-challenged folks to vaccination sites. (We are told by the Hamilton Co. Health Dept. that additional sites are being looked into. Admittedly, it takes more than simply choosing spots for such multifaceted undertakings as vaccinating citizens, yet some USA communities are already on it and providing neighborhood shots … and the time is NOW)

>  officials can accelerate arrangements for more locations; personnel to deal with scheduling and validating vaccine candidates; follow-up modes for second shots; and site security. Maybe vaccine and required supplies cannot happen overnight, but how many nights should it take?

>  ALL citizens have the ability to demand Inoculation Station set-ups within neighborhoods. Think how this mutually cuts wait time for everybody desiring inoculations, whether CARTA Bus Barn, Enterprise South, Riverpark, Walgreens, Walmart, Sam’s, wherever

>  demand that your own paid, elected officials get on top of assuring all qualifying minorities, county-wide, have easier access to getting vaccinated. Again, this is needed to ever see Herd Mentality

>  both inoculated and non-inoculated citizens bus to destinations throughout the city – masked and social distanced – all day long. Why not bus ride-challenged, qualifying families to vaccination sites?

>  remember the Book-Mobile days, when the library (or whatever sponsoring entities) rolled RVs up to preset locations and we could check out books? Are Vax Mobiles a rational notion?

>  philanthropists who adore helping folks can design their own marketing projects as well as support the need to get black and all citizens inoculated. How artistic might Black Vacs Matter handouts be? Competitions? For youth, especially?

Next installment: Black Vacs Matter

Checking in on how racial disparities are getting fixed nationwide, in Tennessee and of course, here in the scenic city. We’ll check our Health Department and share with you their progress on Outreach – and all day daily remember that indeed … Black Vacs Matter.