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Alabama works to improve COVID-19 vaccine equity as the rollout continues

As of Friday, February 12, 11.1 percent of all vaccinations in the state went to Black Alabamians.

Posted: Feb 13, 2021 12:08 AM

As the State of Alabama wrapped up a week of mass vaccination clinics, thousands of people received thier first dose of either the Pfizer or the Moderna-manufactured vaccines. 

Among them were Kiietti and Arbie Parker. They said it was a pleasant surprise when they learned that they would be able to get their shots this week.

Kiietti and Arbie Parker pose after receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine created by Pfizer and BioNTech. The couple got their shots during the final day of the mass vaccination clinic at John Hunt Park. (Courtesy: Arbie Parker) Kiietti and Arbie Parker pose after receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine created by Pfizer and BioNTech. The couple got their shots during the final day of the mass vaccination clinic at John Hunt Park. (Courtesy: Arbie Parker)

"Based off of just how this past year has gone, and just how things seemed to be very unorganized, I really thought that it would be a lot later," Kiietti said.

But it was their jobs, education and manufacturing, that put them in the 1B eligibility group. That's something that Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said was intentional.

He pointed to the fact that group 1B represents more racial diversity than group 1A.

"Part of the racial disparity we're seeing in our vaccination rates is because of who we've targeted, in a way. If you start off with health care workers, in many cases, people of color are just under represented in that group," Dr. Harris said.

That disparity is reflected in the demographic numbers released by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) starting on Wednesday.

As of Friday, only 11.1 percent of all vaccines were given to those in Alabama's Black community. That's up slightly from the 10.8 percent reported on Wednesday. It's also notably higher than the 6 percent reported nationally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

However, U.S. Census data shows that Black residents make up 26.8 percent of Alabama's population and only 13.4 percent of the U.S. population. 

The latest data from ADPH shows that Black people in the state account for 27.9 percent of all COVID-related deaths in the state and 21 percent of cases. For 27.8 percent of all cases the race of the patient is not known. 

Similarly, 29 percent of the vaccinations that have been administered so far have no racial data connected to them and for 3.5 percent of vaccinations, the race is listed as "Unknown."

Dr. Karen Landers, the Northern Public Health District Medical Officer for ADPH, said that historically, racial data wasn't collected when it came to vaccines. She noted on Friday that the office's IT department is working to ramp up collection of that data to help reach under-served communities.

She said there is also the potential to fill in some of the missing gaps in racial demographic information.

"We should be able to capture this data on the second dose. But I think that an equally important issue is to continue to build vaccine confidence within the African-American community and other minority communities," Dr. Landers said.

In addition to increasing confidence in the vaccine, Dr. Harris said they are also working to reach people where they are physically. He said that's partly why the federal government in partnership with Walmart decided on the particular locations that were announced this week.

"They looked at areas where they had certain amounts of disease transmission going on, just historical data over the past few months. And I know they got a lot of input from the feds about equity issues and making sure they're reaching areas where they don't have other access to vaccine," Dr. Harris said.

Officials with Huntsville Hospital also told WAAY 31 on Friday that they are planning to go to under-served areas when they have enough vaccine to do so. A rough timeline of when that might happen was not immediately available.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 493252

Reported Deaths: 9929
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson709861374
Mobile36108725
Madison32405455
Tuscaloosa24110410
Montgomery22565500
Shelby21929215
Baldwin19732283
Lee14961153
Morgan13659251
Calhoun13275286
Etowah13176319
Marshall11261209
Houston10086261
Elmore9376185
Limestone9359134
Cullman8891181
St. Clair8822223
Lauderdale8603211
DeKalb8446175
Talladega7517163
Walker6518255
Jackson6492102
Autauga626491
Blount6097127
Colbert6001118
Coffee5245102
Dale4640107
Russell404730
Franklin399177
Covington3957106
Chilton3870100
Escambia377472
Tallapoosa3585142
Clarke343650
Chambers3410110
Dallas3403141
Pike293372
Lawrence282984
Marion281895
Winston246767
Bibb245060
Geneva239670
Marengo235855
Pickens224654
Barbour211551
Hale209768
Fayette200256
Butler196166
Henry182441
Cherokee177038
Monroe166139
Randolph163640
Washington156535
Clay144354
Crenshaw144354
Macon142043
Cleburne137739
Lamar132833
Lowndes131051
Wilcox121825
Bullock116936
Conecuh106724
Perry105527
Sumter98331
Coosa88823
Greene87632
Choctaw55023
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 775004

Reported Deaths: 11411
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby872191491
Davidson81420861
Knox45877581
Hamilton40298459
Rutherford38301383
Williamson25238203
Sumner21329315
Montgomery17380212
Out of TN1693194
Wilson16371210
Unassigned15639125
Sullivan14318273
Blount14036181
Bradley12867139
Washington12759234
Maury12203163
Sevier12011163
Putnam10592169
Madison10092229
Robertson8941120
Hamblen8013162
Anderson7971156
Greene7283145
Tipton6945103
Coffee6311114
Dickson6205106
Gibson6187140
Cumberland6102121
Carter5962152
McMinn591791
Roane588896
Bedford5789119
Loudon567965
Jefferson5642118
Lawrence556383
Monroe532290
Warren530975
Hawkins523894
Dyer5234101
Franklin472585
Fayette466171
Obion436694
Rhea414473
Lincoln413362
Cocke397593
Marshall390756
Cheatham390543
Campbell380059
Weakley378659
Giles373296
Henderson361973
Carroll347981
Hardeman338164
White337166
Macon336373
Hardin331163
Lauderdale309742
Henry300675
Marion293644
Wayne287130
Scott286843
Overton284857
Claiborne278967
McNairy267253
Hickman264941
Haywood264860
DeKalb264349
Smith255636
Grainger242446
Trousdale238922
Morgan229637
Fentress229144
Johnson216338
Chester201548
Bledsoe200110
Crockett197147
Unicoi180347
Polk175522
Cannon174529
Union171933
Grundy168330
Lake167826
Sequatchie155327
Decatur153737
Humphreys153221
Benton150739
Lewis146825
Meigs125921
Jackson125034
Stewart123324
Clay106930
Perry103227
Houston102732
Moore94416
Van Buren79520
Pickett74623
Hancock49612

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