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Health Advocate Says Black Kentuckians Now Vaccinated At Equitable Rates

Ohio Valley ReSource

It’s been three months since the first Kentuckians received COVID-19 vaccines and, according to one advocacy organization, the racial disparity in vaccinations revealed in February is now shrinking.

In February, Gov. Andy Beshear said only about 4% of vaccines were going to Black Kentuckians, who make up more than 8% of the state’s population. That was in part due to prioritization of vaccines for the health care and education fields, in which Black people are underrepresented.

T Gonzales, director of Louisville’s Center for Health Equity, told WFPL News last month this is because of historical racist policies that blocked Black people from accessing education necessary to become health care workers and educators.

Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the advocacy organization Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said Thursday the administration of vaccines to Kentucky’s Black population is getting better.

“As of this week, about 8.3% of vaccinated Kentuckians are Black,” he said. “And that pretty much is in line with the proportion of the population here in Kentucky.”

He did not provide a source for his data. Representatives for Beshear’s office and Cabinet for Health and Family Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Vaccines aren’t the only way the pandemic highlighted race-based health disparities in the state.

Black Kentuckians also experienced a higher rate of cases and deaths earlier in the pandemic. But as of Wednesday, the state reported both cases and deaths were proportional to the percentage of Black Kentuckians.

The Foundation is rolling out a new public service announcement campaign that encourages Black Kentuckians to get vaccinated.

Participants in the campaign said historical mistrust of the medical community may cause Black Kentuckians to hesitate to get the vaccine. But their message is that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and necessary.

“I’ve had my vaccine, I’ve had my shot. And I’ve gotten it because I want to be around my family and friends. And I want to protect them. But at the same time I want them to protect me,” said board chair Vivian Lasley-Bibbs, who is Black.

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