On Sunday, 60 minutes focused on what it called the disparities in Florida’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution. They highlighted disparities between wealthy communities and those with limited access to shots.
WINK News wants to hear from those in minority communities who believe they don’t have access to vaccines.
For underserved neighborhoods and farmworkers, there were weeks without easy access to COVID-19 vaccines.
For too many people, the vaccine came too late. James C. Givens is the Pastor at Mt. Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“We’ve had three. That died from it. And we are saddened by that,” said Pastor Givens.
And for too many others, the vaccine never got to them.
Across the country, in Florida and even in Southwest Florida people have died of COVID-19 after the vaccine became available.
Lee County’s NAACP President believes the poor, people of color and the most disadvantaged were last in line to get those life-saving shots.
James Muwakkil is the Lee County NAACP President. “We did have strong feelings of neglect when it occurred when the vaccine was being handed out,” Muwakkail said.
They feel short-changed, forgotten and abandoned. Three months later, he is more optimistic.
“We look like we’re turning the corner,” Muwakkil said. “We feel pretty good that everybody who wants to be vaccinated can be vaccinated here in Lee County.”
There’s good news in Immokalee, too. Farmworkers there were waiting but now they have vaccine availability.
Some people are getting the vaccine. And, others are convincing their friends, or trying to. That is the next challenge.
“You got to go where we gather. So you have to go to your barbershops, to your beauty salons,” Muwakkil said.
“People are comfortable in their space. And so when people are comfortable, they are more apt to get them to do and to participate,” said Givens.
So it’s gotten better where the situation was the worst. But Pastor Givens knows what it’s like to lose people when it’s “getting better” so, he says, time is of the essence.
“One of the things that I dread when we do return back to the sanctuary, they will not be sitting in their normal seat,” Givens said. “Oh, those seats will always be theirs. That’s for sure.”
This link tracks the distribution of vaccines by race and ethnicity. For example, Black people make up 16% of Florida’s population but only 7% of vaccinations. There are similar charts for Hispanic, Asian and White people.