Black Churches Could be Crucial in Improving Vaccination Rates Among African Americans

A volunteer receives an injection from a medical worker. Siphiwe Sibeko/Pool via AP

Black churches could prove crucial in improving COVID-19 vaccination rates among Black Americans, a new study suggests.

The COVID-19 death rate among Black Americans is three times higher than among white Americans, and health officials had hoped that vaccines would narrow that gap.

However, Black communities are disproportionately affected by barriers to vaccination, such as limited online access and a lack of transportation.

As a result, less than 15% of Black Americans have received the first dose of a COVID vaccine.

“Black churches have long been more than places of worship to their communities,” said study leader Jacinda Abdul-Mutakabbir, an assistant professor of pharmacy at Loma Linda University in California. “They serve as strongholds for disseminating trusted information and have been integral in our initiative to help achieve racial equity in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.”

To address low vaccination rates among Blacks in California’s San Bernardino County, Loma Linda researchers began collaborating with Black churches and health agencies to promote immunization and improve access.

While Black people make up nearly 8% of the county’s residents, they represent only 3.2% of the more than 14,000 county residents vaccinated at Loma Linda University clinics during a one-month period.

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SOURCE: HealthDay, Robert Preidt; U.S. News & World Report

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