Health center in Black Alabama community has received zero vaccine doses

Alabama Regional Medical Services, a federally qualified health center that serves a low-income, predominantly Black community on Birmingham's north side, has yet to receive a single COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, vaccines are already available at a pharmacy in the state's wealthiest town of Mountain Brook, which is due east of Birmingham, reports Bloomberg.

Alabama started reporting race and ethnicity data for vaccine recipients two weeks ago, so the data is limited. Current figures show white people are getting vaccinated at nearly two times the rate of Black people, according to Bloomberg.

Overall, white people comprise 68 percent of the state's population and account for nearly 80 percent of all vaccinations. In contrast, Black people represent 26.6 percent of the population and just 17.6 percent have been vaccinated. 

Nearly 900 clinics and pharmacies have been approved to administer COVID-19 vaccines in the state, but many are still waiting to receive vaccines. Half of these facilities are clinics in the state's lowest-income areas, according to Bloomberg.

State and local officials attribute this trend to low vaccine supplies, but critics allege Alabama rushed to make vaccines available in every county and overlooked efforts to target minority populations that have been disproportionately affected by the virus.

Assistant state health officer Karen Landers, MD, said the state has taken a data-driven approach to vaccine distribution and pointed to several successful efforts at vaccinating Black populations via drive-thru clinics in Jefferson County.

"We continue to be open to any changes that need to happen,” she told Bloomberg. "We are particularly concerned about our state, given the overall demographics. We are not a healthy state."

Jefferson County is slated to deliver 400 vaccine doses to Alabama Regional Medical Services in the second week of March.

More articles on public health:
Some Californians going around rules, taking vaccine appointments meant for people of color
OneMedical accused of letting ineligible people get COVID-19 vaccine
'Long COVID' symptoms could linger for up to 9 months, study suggests

 

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