COVID-19 vaccine disparities highlighted between Richmond’s Black and white children

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 2:31 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2021 at 7:06 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - New data is emerging and revealing a new gap between Black and white children in Richmond.

“I think the distrust is inherent because of the history, and I just don’t think that’s something you get over,” said Dr. Robert Bennett, a pediatrician in Church Hill.

The Richmond - Henrico Health Districts say the rate of white children in the city getting a COVID-19 vaccine is two to three times higher than the rate of Black children.

“For our community specifically, if we review our policies and different systemic things going on in our community, we do see that many of those barriers place additional burdens on our families of color, and our Black families, in particular, compared to our white families,” said Jackie Lawrence, RHHD Director of Health Equity.

Health leaders in the community blame mistrust, misinformation and missed opportunities, but Dr. Bennett is asking Black families to find a way.

“They just don’t have transportation. They just don’t have daycare. They can’t bring the entire household with them,” said Dr. Bennett.

To close the vaccine gap, the health department is working with youth community partners like sports leagues to reach children, but also with kids back in school, they are pushing the vaccine message in the classroom.

“This is not just the health district alone who can fix this. So, how do we all kind of circle around together to address this issue? Whether or not it’s assuring folks that they will have reliable information, creating accessible vaccine opportunities, dispelling misinformation, and just acknowledging the racial disparities that exist in our communities.”

Overall, 41.6% of those between the ages of 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated in Richmond. That number stands at 57.7% in Henrico County.

“The biggest endorsement I can say is I would give it to my own children,” said Dr. Bennett.

The data also shows Latino children not far behind white children in COVID-19 vaccination rates.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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