White children are vaccinated at rate 2 to 3x higher than Black children in Richmond, data shows


Vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (Christopher Dolan/The Times-Tribune via AP)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — During a COVID-19 update Thursday morning, the Richmond and Henrico Health District presented data regarding vaccinations.

Dr. Melissa Viray with RCHD said that community transmission remains high and hospitals are feeling the burden of COVID-19. She asked residents to continue getting vaccinated and do their part to slow the spread of coronavirus.

According to data from the Virginia Department of Health, 51.5% of people ages 12-17 in Richmond have been vaccinated.

In data presented by Dr. Viray and gathered by her team, findings revealed that white children are getting the COVID-19 vaccine at a rate of two to three times higher than Black children in Richmond. Given Richmond’s demographics, she said this data is very alarming.

“While children tend to recover well from COVID-19, the potential to spread it to more vulnerable
individuals in their family is high,” explains Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director at RHHD. “This
disparity is deeply concerning to us, especially as we move into the fall and winter months when
there is higher community transmission… Black communities were already disproportionately
impacted last year before we had vaccinations.”

Dr. Viray said that the data is based on estimates. In a perfect data scenario, they would know the exact number of kids of each race vaccinated, but they do not. They used data from the health department and the U.S. Census to reach their estimate.

Dr. Richard L. Bennett, MD, who practices medicine in Church Hill, said there is mistrust, miseducation and missed opportunity when it comes to getting kids vaccinated. Dr. Bennet said education about vaccines should start at schools, churches and doctor’s offices.

When it comes to vaccines, Dr. Bennett said people should feel empowered and have their questions answered instead of feeling like information is being shoved down their throats.

In addition to RHHD’s ongoing outreach and vaccination efforts, RHHD said they plan to combat this
disparity with a three-part action plan:

  • Transparency and data sharing: RHHD will inform the general public on this disparity.
    RHHD will also provide special communication to key stakeholders (namely schools,
    faith communities, pediatricians, and parents) on the disparity so data trends can inform
    their work.
  • Outreach and education: RHHD will expand its partnerships with afterschool programs,
    youth employers, sports leagues, youth group homes, and more to provide youth an
    opportunity to ask questions and receive accurate information about COVID-19
  • Vaccination opportunities: RHHD will partner with schools and other youth-focused
    partners to offer COVID-19 vaccinations onsite. RHHD will also continue to monitor
    areas with low vaccine uptake to offer COVID-19 vaccines in those areas.

If you are thinking about getting a vaccine, here is a list of upcoming COVID-19 vaccination events in our area:

9/17/21 – Henrico West, 8600 Dixon Powers Dr, Richmond, 23228 – 9 a.m. to noon – Pfizer, J&J and Moderna

9/18/21 – Brookland Park Community Celebration, 2930 North Ave. – 2 to 4 p.m. – Pfizer and J&J

9/18/21 – AfroFest RVA, Dogwood Dell Amphitheater, 600 S Arthur Ashe Blvd, Richmond, VA 23220 – 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. – Pfizer J&J

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