CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – More African Americans are starting to get vaccinated for COVID-19 around the state and the country. Numbers have gone up within the past couple of weeks.

People in the community reached out to us to speak with a doctor who looks like them to explain the importance of getting vaccinated. Turns out, it worked.

“Yes, we definitely have, you know. We’ve been keeping our efforts moving as such as doing the drive-thru clinics, which we do on Thursday afternoons where people can come after work and then also if we have people who come in and test we’re encouraging them,” Anitra Ellis, Nurse Practitioner at West Virginia Health Right said.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Ellis says around 40% of West Virginia’s African American population was fully vaccinated. Now, it’s a lot higher.

“Only around about less than 50% of African Americans have been fully vaccinated, and around about 40% has had at least one dose. I feel like that’s getting better so I think we’re going in the right direction,” Ellis said.

In Ohio, 39% of African Americans have been vaccinated and 43% in Kentucky of the total population. Nationally, the number of African American adult populations vaccinated are almost equal with whites and Hispanics around 70%, according to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“More people are sharing their stories. They’re realizing that some of the things that they’ve heard about the vaccine is not true,” Ellis said.

African Americans are more at risk of getting sicker if they catch COVID-19.

“As African Americans, we typically have more co-morbid conditions, so we have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes and things like that, and when you have chronic health conditions like that, that’s going to put you at risk for poorer outcomes,” Ellis said.

The reason for the increase in more people getting vaccinated is this.

“Death speaks to us all. People are starting to be more afraid of COVID than they are the vaccine and realizing that it can be a difference between life and death,” Ellis said.

Health professionals hope more African Americans will continue to get vaccinated.