Advocates pushing to get vaccinations on Charleston’s West Side

Coronavirus in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Advocates on Charleston’s West Side are pushing harder to get vaccines to minority populations.

They say they are convinced they’re an afterthought when it comes to getting vaccinations, and they should be made a priority since they’re one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to COVID-19.

Ever since the COVID-19 vaccine rolled out, leaders on the West Side have been trying to get it.

“If this disease is affecting our people more than anyone else, then why aren’t we taking care of the most vulnerable people in the city,” Robert Haley, Bishop at A More Excellent Way of Life Church said.

The biggest concern is that most of Charleston’s west side population is elderly and has health problems putting them at higher risk of being affected by the virus.

“We have three high rises, senior citizen high rises, in this area and a lot of these people are still not being taken care of because they don’t have transportation to go to the civic center or anywhere else,” Haley said.

Vaccination data, like that produced by the Kaiser Health News, shows white Americans being vaccinated at much higher rates than minorities. The problem with vaccinating local neighborhoods is that the decision is often not a local one.

“The state does make the determination of who gets the vaccine, but we can use the Everbridge system or the enrollment system to pull down demographics for zip code or by race so we can do some targeted outreach,” Dr. Sherri Young, Executive Director at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

Dr. Young says the county is taking steps in getting everyone vaccinated.

“We are working to help with some religious leaders across the city to try to get people into the Everbridge and put out some educational information,” Dr. Young said.

Community leaders say they haven’t heard yet when they will get the vaccine – hoping it will be soon.

“We have contacted the health department and every other entity that we know of to try and get a site here at the church without any type of return call and we’re just very concerned about our people,”

As of today, Kanawha County has 5.5% of its minority populations vaccinated, which is about double the state average.

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