JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - With one year of COVID-19 in the rearview mirror, we’re taking a closer look at the impact it’s had on the Black community in Mississippi.
Mississippi only trails the District of Columbia in the percentages of African Americans who’ve died from the virus.
COVID-19 has hit the Black community hard. Mary Robinson talked about that realization just after receiving her first dose of the vaccine.
“I’ve had a few friends to die from COVID,” said Robinson. “I just don’t want to be one of the numbers.”
But a look through the data shows the community took notice and turned the trends around early on after a concerted education effort.
“The other thing that has happened in the African American community that has impacted that and decreased those numbers significantly is... as the COVID pandemic has continued and has become a political thing with wearing masks and the other preventive measures we’ve advocated, it did not become political in the African American community,” described Dr. Claude Brunson, Mississippi State Medical Association Executive Director.
Vaccines are the next link in the chain. Nurse practitioner Stacia Dunson is vaccinating patients curbside at her clinic.
“Most of my patients who come in say, ‘I’m more comfortable with you giving the vaccine,’” said Dunson. “I don’t want to go to another site where I don’t know the provider. I want the person that takes care of me whenever I need it. I want you... someone who looks like me.”
“I was hesitant. I wasn’t that trusting,” explained Robinson.
Health officials point to public vaccine events where leaders in the community showed they trusted the shot as a turning point in interest from within the Black community.
“About a month or month-and-a-half ago, the vaccination rate was about 15 percent at best in the African American community.”
As of the latest update, 27 percent of the vaccines administered in the state have gone to Black Mississippians.
The Executive Director of the State Medical Association tells us they’re now finding the issue is less about hesitancy and more about access. That’s something he says will continue to improve as the supply increases.