Montgomery County is trying to reach seniors 75 and older through special vaccination clinics with an emphasis on minorities within that group.
Councilmember Will Jawando says 12% of the seniors in that population are Black, but “only 6 percent of them have been vaccinated with their first dose or have scheduled an appointment. That's a huge disparity with their percentage of the population. Other communities don’t see that."
County elected leaders and health officials held a town hall Zoom meeting Monday night focusing on the Black community. Jawando said people of color are getting the least number of appointments and shots despite having the highest rates of infection and death.
“When we know African Americans are more likely to die from this disease, life expectancy is lower, it's a priority to make sure that we're getting information out and getting vaccine in arms of that very vulnerable and at risk population," Jawando said.
The town hall was also meant to address the reluctance of some minorities to get the shot and why acceptance of the vaccine is so important.
“I don’t want to try and shame anybody for being fearful because I understand what our history represents, but at the same time, we also have to make sure that we're providing those opportunities to keep themselves and their families safe,” Councilmember Craig Rice said.
Officials are also concerned that the county is now getting fewer doses from the state, and that demands for a mass vaccination site have been ignored.
The county is also talking about using its census outreach team to go directly to the community, going door-to-door to serve at-risk seniors.
Health officials said it’s still important for people to be tested for COVID-19, to let them know where the virus is in the community and to stop the spread.