Health Equity Groups Work to Vaccinate Northland’s Black, Indigenous, People of Color
According to the CDC, many racial and ethnic minority groups can face economic, social, and geographical barriers to healthcare, and therefore COVID Vaccines.
DULUTH, Minn.- As vaccine supplies and vaccination initiatives increase throughout the country and the Northland, efforts have started zeroing in on helping racial and ethnic communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
According to the CDC, many racial and ethnic minority groups can face economic, social, and geographical barriers to healthcare such as difficulties finding affordable and quality housing and health insurance with interpreters and culturally responsive care.
Due to those factors, and more overall hesitancy to get the shots, Black Indigenous and People of Color are shown to have a higher risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.
“Our voices were heard, the stats show that Black Indigenous Communities are being hit the hardest by COVID,” Community Coordinator Christina Trok said.
On Friday, February 12th at a vaccine clinic in the Central Hillside neighborhood, Black Indigenous and People of Color ages 65 and older were front and center to get a shot.
“Typically People of Color, Black Indigenous People of Color,” said Janet Kennedy, founder of Health Equity Northland. “We have people that are Asian Americans, Latinx people have come in.”
While COVID can be harmful to people across the board, the effects are often even more crippling for those underserved communities facing barriers to proper COVID information and care.
“Our death rate is 2.8 times higher than those of our white counterparts,” said Trok. “And not just those 65 and older are being affected, but people in lower ages as well.”
On the first day of the vaccine clinic at the St. Mark African Episcopal Church, 30 people were registered with a backup list for when more doses become available. “It’s absolutely beautiful because this is historic,” said Trok, working with Healthy Alliances for All.
“Not just having vaccine clinics available in large areas, but bringing the vaccine to the community,” she said.
By eliminating geographical barriers, groups like Health Equity Northland and Healthy Alliances for All work to continue improving vaccine access and education.
“If you look at it by zip code there are several other ways that they’re impacted,” said Kennedy. “And so it’s really important that we reach out to those who have less access and to really help get rid of some of those barriers to getting the vaccine.”
Health Equity Northland and St. Louis County plan to have many more of these focused vaccine clinics. People of color ages 65 and older can add themselves to a mailing list to be part of these clinics by visiting the Health Equity Northland website.
As arms of all colors got injected with the medicine, organizers hope the effort can also continue injecting remedies to keep improving health inequity for the area’s Black Indigenous and People of Color.
“We’re speaking up and we’re making ourselves visible so that we can make sure that our community stays healthy,” Christina Trok said.