MIAMI – The coronavirus vaccine rollout in Florida has been far from smooth.
On top of the supply running low, there is a big disparity in who gets those doses.
Data shows minorities are most at-risk but vaccination sites in those underserved communities are hard to come by.
A new site opened up Wednesday at the Tuscany Cove Apartments in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood.
“I live here and its more convenient for me here,” said 85-year-old Virginia Robinson.
That convenience was all it took for Robinson to get her COVID-19 shot.
“I was telling all my friends about it because they said they had a hard time getting,” she said. “I don’t want to sit in a car for three hours and I didn’t have to.”
Research shows communities of color and neighborhoods home to African Americans, who are more susceptible to serious and fatal complications from the virus, are getting vaccinated at a much lesser rate than white people.
As of Wednesday, 1.6 million doses have been given statewide but only 73,000 of those were to black people, compared to more than 945,000.
“We’re not trying to underserve people, we’re trying to overserve, but we don’t have enough food,” said City of Miami Commissioner Jeffrey Watson. “So if we get the vaccinations, the vaccines, we’ll be able to do the vaccinations for people who would like to now have a vaccination.”
The numbers are concerning. In Miami-Dade County just 10,000 Black people have been vaccinated compared to 106,000 White people.
In Broward County nearly 12,000 Blacks have gotten a shot, but far from the nearly 90,000 Whites.
In Palm Beach County only 4,000 Blacks have been vaccinated.
There, shots are only available at Publix, stores that are absent in predominantly Black communities.
The problem? Part access to inoculation sites and part skepticism among minorities from past government vaccine practices.
“I can’t speak for the rest of Miami-Dade County, the hospitals and what they’re doing, a lot of the hospitals are being administered at the hospital level, all I can tell you is our commissioner has been incredibly proactive and on it and we’re doing it here,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.