Out of the roughly 9 million people vaccinated for COVID-19 in Florida, Black people only account for 658,000. Governor Ron DeSantis administration officials and advocates are working to boost vaccination rates in Black communities around Florida.
Larry Robinson, president of Florida A&M and Statewide Coronavirus Vaccination Community Education and Engagement Task Force member, says the number of unvaccinated Blacks in Florida are “unacceptable.”
“In the state of Florida, it’s somewhere around the ratio of two to one in terms of people of color versus Caucasians,” he said.
“So even though you look at the overall big picture, we still have a lot to do in order to get the concept called herd immunity to get to a point where we can resume life,” Shamarial Roberson, the Florida Department of Health’s deputy secretary for health, said.
During the Statewide Coronavirus Vaccination Community Education and Engagement Task Force, community leaders discussed different ways to encourage Black people to get vaccinated. The task force was created in January and is working to get between 60 and 70 percent of Black Floridians vaccinated.
Rev. R.B. Holmes, who leads the task force, questioned comments that Senator Ron Johnson’s made last week about the vaccine.
“I don’t want to get too political, but I saw a Senator from Wisconsin saying that he does not believe in these vaccines,” Holmes said. “And some people in the white Evangelical community are also noncommittal. But we just have to be positive, stay focused, and keep our eye on the prize.”
Holmes said he sent an online of how to get more Black Floridians vaccinated to Gov. DeSantis’ office back in February, but he never heard back.
“There are people that are making millions of dollars by convincing people ‘don’t get a vaccine, do my thing, buy my product, wear my special thing, etc.,'” Daniel Van Drum, a professor at Florida State University School of Medicine, said.
Last month, Governor DeSantis opened six vaccination sites in minority communities across the state. Representative Omari Hardy is urging DeSantis to do more.
“Gov. DeSantis and the folks around him need to move heaven and earth to get vaccines to the Black community, and as they do this I don’t want to hear them blame their inability to equitably distribute the vaccine to people of color on vaccine hesitancy,” the progressive lawmaker said.