Jan 27, 2021 - News

Black residents in Tampa Bay face big COVID vaccine disparities

James Bryant, left, and his wife Eunice register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at St. Johns Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa earlier this month. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Tampa Bay's vaccination rate for Black residents is startlingly low.

By the numbers: Of the 54,725 people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine in Sarasota-Manatee, only 812 are Black.

  • For Sarasota County, which is 4.7% Black, that means 1.2% of vaccine doses have gone to Black residents.
  • It’s even worse in Manatee County (9.3% Black), where only 2% of doses have gone to Black residents.

Why it matters: Black people are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 infections and deaths, making them among Florida's most vulnerable residents. But they lag behind other populations when it comes to getting inoculated.

Driving the news: Several factors, including mistrust of vaccines and lack of access to both appointment registration technology and transportation to vaccination sites, are fueling the divide, Florida health experts told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Other Tampa Bay counties reflect similarly low Black vaccination rates:

  • Pasco: Black residents have received 2.5% of vaccine doses in a 6.7% Black county.
  • Hillsborough: 5.8% of vaccine doses in an 18% Black county.
  • Pinellas: 4.2% of vaccine doses in an 11.1% Black county.
  • Hernando: 3% of vaccine doses in a 6.1% Black county.

Of note: Black churches have taken on a key role in educating parishioners about COVID-19, including the importance of vaccines, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Yes, but: Even those who want the shot are having trouble getting it.

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that Florida is now withholding COVID-19 vaccines so seniors and health care workers can get their second doses, after initially pressuring hospitals to administer the shots faster.

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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