DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – With all adults age 16 and over now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Ohio, health care workers and community leaders say they are stepping up their efforts to encourage people of color to get vaccinated.
As National Minority Health Month gets underway, Premier Health and the Gem City Medical Dental Pharmaceutical Society, a group of Black health care professionals in the Miami Valley, have teamed up to educate minority communities about the vaccine.
Data from the Ohio Department of Health shows Montgomery County has gotten a larger percentage of its minority population vaccinated compared to the state of Ohio overall, but whites are still getting vaccinated at a higher rate, both locally and statewide.
Health care workers in the Miami Valley have made progress improving access to the COVID-19 vaccine to minority communities, according to Dr. Terri Moncrief, an allergist who is a member of the Gem City Medical Dental Pharmaceutical Society.
“I remember when they first talked about the vaccine becoming available,” said Carla Pettiford, who was recently vaccinated. “It was, it seemed, almost untouchable. And now today, here I am, and I was able to get it.”
Premier Health and the Gem City Medical Dental Pharmaceutical Society have released a new public service announcement and are working to reach more people of color who haven’t signed up for an appointment.
“Our clinics are set up whereby you have to sign up online, or you can call a call center and we can get you scheduled, and you know what? That works fine for some, but not necessarily for everyone,” said Eloise Broner, chief of shared services for Premier Health.
Doctors in the Gem City Medical Dental Pharmaceutical Society are helping to get their patients scheduled for the vaccine, Broner explained.
“Those individuals, their patients, could call our call center, or they could fill out a form, and our call center will reach back out to them,” she said.
There is still some hesitancy among minority groups, Dr. Moncrief said, so they’re also working to educate patients about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and clear up misconceptions.
“The vaccine does not have a chip in it,” Dr. Moncrief explained. The vaccine does not cause infertility. The vaccine is not going to give you the virus.”
COVID-19 poses a much greater threat to people of color compared to whites, Dr. Moncrief said.
“We know that the African-American population is more than two and a half times more likely to die from this illness,” she said.
That’s because of higher rates of comorbidities, including obesity, diabetes and hypertension, Dr. Moncrief said.
Beyond the vaccination process, Dr. Moncrief said she feels optimistic health care workers and local leaders can continue to reduce inequities in health care.
“Encouraging people of color to ensure that we have primary care doctors, doctors that you trust, doctors that you feel comfortable calling because you have to know you have an illness in order to treat it,” Dr. Moncrief said.
Aside from health care workers, religious leaders are also working to do their part.
“This is important that we do this so that we do not make our elders whom we love more susceptible to the illness,” said Rev. Renard Allen, Jr., pastor of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Dayton.
Pastor Allen told 2 NEWS now that he is eligible, he is planning to get vaccinated in a few days.
“This illness has had some devastating impact on people who are under 40,” he said.
Dr. Moncrief told 2 NEWS she believes the partnerships local organizations have formed during this pandemic will help improve access to health care over the long term.
For more information about signing up for the COVID-19 vaccine with Premier Health, click here.