Dr. Cohen, Bishop Barber host forum to discuss state’s COVID-19 vaccination plans

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Dr. Mandy Cohen and Bishop William J Barber II joined together Tuesday night to discuss North Carolina’s COVID-19 vaccination plan and the role it plays in communities of color.

It was the first conversation in a series called fireside chats. Community members could listen in and ask questions.

“This pandemic has exposed the depths of systemic racism and economic disparities. Exposed means you can see it and if you choose to see it and look at it and analyze it, then you can fix it,” Barber said.

While the amount of Black people receiving vaccine in North Carolina is growing, they still only account for 12 percent of the 1 million shots given out, with even lower allocation numbers in the Hispanic community.

“We do not see that we are vaccinating our African American community, our Hispanic community, our Native American community at the same rate that we are vaccinating our white community and that means we have work to do,” Cohen said.

The panelists credit the problem to several things including limited access to internet, information, transportation, and trusted health care providers and health centers in these communities.

They said partnering with church’s, historically Black colleges and universities, and other organizations will help the state tap into these hard-hit communities.

However, the experts acknowledged that it will take a lot of hard work and time before some of the metrics will meaningfully change.

“We literally have zero doses right now in North Carolina. Now we’re getting a shipment in tomorrow, and so we’re going to work hard with the federal government to make sure we have the vaccine supply that we need to get to everybody,” Cohen said.

The state announced a plan to cover transportation costs to vaccine sites for those in need.

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