New Haven, health partners working to address racial disparity in COVID vaccination rate

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New data from Yale New Haven Health shows mass COVID-19 vaccination sites are not reaching vulnerable areas geared towards communities of color. And New Haven is no exception. Now, the City and local health partners are working to address it.

Mayor Justin Elicker said Thursday, “It’s a major, major concern that the percentage of Black and brown residents is way under the white communities as far as the number of vaccines that are being given out.”

Mayor Elicker making it plain and working with his team to close the gap.

For New Haven Health Director Maritza Bond, closing the racial disparities gap in terms of who is getting vaccinated has been a challenge at the forefront of what the city and community health partners have been working to address since the vaccine began rolling out.

“One of the things that we collectively on our team have been vigilant about in this response to COVID-19 is ensuring that we have equity at the forefront,” Bond said.

While the Health Department has administered more than 10,000 vaccines, the amount actually distributed has been higher through other entities like the hospital and community health centers.

But there is a push to make sure Black and brown residents don’t fall through the cracks.

Dr. Ohm Deshpande, VP for Population Health at Yale New Haven Health, says with about 10% of vaccines going into the arms of Black residents, about 15% to Latinos, and about 4% to Asian residents, the disparities are concerning.

“We are not going to get to herd immunity if a specific group in society doesn’t get vaccinated or gets vaccinated at lower rates because the virus can continue to replicate and it’s not being stamped out.”

While the disparity isn’t exclusive to New Haven, city leaders are on the move to make sure access is there for residents beginning with pop-up vaccination sites.

It’s why the city is launching several vaccination sites throughout the city. In addition, the Health Department has shut down vaccination access to non-New Haven residents (outside healthcare and education workers) to cut down on out-of-towners coming in and disrupting the work to get vulnerable populations vaccinated.

“We recognize that and so we wanted to close those out so our New Haven residents have the opportunity,” Dir. Bond said.

“To ensure that New Haven residents, particularly individuals who may not have had access to those resources,” Mayor Elicker added.

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