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Florida’s COVID-19 vaccine campaign continues amid racial disparity

LAUDERHILL, Fla. – M.C. Montgomery received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday. He was afraid, but at 75 years old he knows his risk of dying during the coronavirus pandemic is high.

Montgomery defied the racial disparity in Florida when he showed up to get his shot at the John Mullin Park’s drive-thru site in Lauderhill, where about 80% of the population is Black.

According to the Florida Department of Health’s Thursday afternoon report, only about 4.8% of the people who have been vaccinated in Florida are Black. That is being that 1,567,152 people have been vaccinated, including 75,763 who are Black.

Florida’s COVID-19 vaccine campaign is focusing on the more than 4.3 million seniors who make up nearly 21% of the state’s population and on healthcare personnel. Blacks make up about 17% of the state’s population.

The disparity is also evident in both the distribution of the first and the second dose of the vaccine. Officials report 1,319,822 have received the first dose, including 61,731 who are Black. Only 247,330 have completed the two doses, including 14,032 who are Black.

Mabel Williams, a retired nurse, was also at the park’s drive-thru distribution center in Lauderhill waiting for her vaccine. She said not enough Blacks are getting vaccines because there is a lot of fear.

“I called up to feel my older church sisters, and they are like ... ‘I don’t know,’ ‘I have to ask my son,’ ‘I have to ask my nephew,’” Williams said. “And I am like, ‘It’s your life! It’s your health! I am glad that I got it because, you know, it’s protecting myself.”

In Miami Gardens, where more than 70% of the population is Black, the city provided free transportation to more than 100 seniors, so they could get their shots at the Jessie Trice Community Health Center.

DeSantis’ administration launched partnerships with churches and is planning to launch an educational campaign to target the community. President Joe Biden’s plan is to invest in educational programs and mobile clinics to solve the issue of mistrust, which is linked to a long history of racist unethical practices.

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About the Authors:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.