Hamilton County Cincinnati plans COVID-19 vaccine equity Black residents

Sandra Brooks, 69, of North Avondale, gets her Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Corinthian Baptist Church in Bond Hill, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. The event was hosted by the First Ladies for Health and the Cincinnati Health Department.

A strategic plan to get COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of Black people and other minorities in both Cincinnati and Hamilton County is underway. And it's beginning to yield results, in part by delivering vaccines at familiar settings – churches and the city's health clinics.

The lack of equal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to Black populations became obvious early in vaccination distribution around the United States and locally. Fewer Black people were being vaccinated than their proportion of the population from the start. The issue prompted discussions among area health leaders who have been meeting since April 2020 in an Equitable Strategies group of more than 20 community partners in Hamilton County.

“Since the vaccines started rolling out there has been a concern around an environment of scarcity that people with means tend to get access," said Kate Schroder, regional vaccine coordinator at the Health Collaborative, the trade group for the Cincinnati region's health systems. "We are ensuring that we’re being proactive in equitable access."

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Vaccine tracker: Details on the rollout of shots across the Cincinnati region

Jeannette Rhodes, 75, is administered the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine by JoMarie Richardson, a pharmacist with the Equitas Clinic, at the Equitas Pharmacy in Walnut Hills on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.

The partnership includes county and city public health leaders, the Health Collaborative, which represents major medical systems in the area, and some elected officials. The partners want to reduce vaccination barriers for Black residents, aligning resources and increasing trust among underserved people.

To figure out where the greatest need for vaccines was, the group asked Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to apply mapping to identify the most vulnerable communities – where people who live below the poverty line and people who are in minority groups live.

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