Sunday vaccine clinic spotlights need for equity in COVID-19 vaccinations

Gov. Mike DeWine and his wife, Fran, visit a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Thurgood Marshall High School in Dayton on Sunday/ CONTRIBUTED

Gov. Mike DeWine visited a COVID-19 vaccination clinic Sunday at Thurgood Marshall High School in Dayton, where he stressed the importance of all Ohioans getting access to vaccines in a timely manner.

Gov. Mike DeWine addresses the media after touring a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Thurgood Marshall High school in Dayton on Sunday. / Staff photo by Marshall Gorby

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Kroger, the city of Dayton, Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County and the Ohio Department of Health partnered to put on the clinic. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and several Montgomery County commissioners also were on hand.

“One of our goals throughout has been to make sure every Ohioan, no matter where they live, if they live in the most remote rural county, or they live in the city, or the suburbs, that they have the opportunity to go and get the vaccine fairly close to where they live,” he said. “We’re focused a lot on equity geographically and equity in every other way. So what we’re seeing today I think is a really good reflection of that.”

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About 2,000 people 65 and older were expected to get vaccinated Sunday, DeWine said.

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Nationally, the vaccination rates among whites is more than three times higher than the rate for Hispanics and twice as high as the rate for Blacks, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization focusing on national health issues. In Ohio, 11% of whites have been vaccinated, compared to 5% for Blacks and 4% for Hispanics, the foundation said.

Some people of color have been hesitant to get the vaccine because they don’t have enough information, according to the Kaiser report. Reluctance for some also stems from mistrust of the medical profession in light of historical examples of Blacks being used in medical experiments without their consent.

But millions of people across the country have gotten the coronavirus vaccine, and there’s ample evidence that it’s safe, DeWine said Sunday. His administration has planned virtual townhall meetings at which medical professionals, community leaders and others will take questions and address myths about the vaccine. The townhalls will be aimed at people of color as well as rural Ohioans, who also traditionally are underserved.

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Jenny and Stan Staggs of Germantown got their first shots at the clinic. Jenny Staggs was infected with the coronavirus, and although she was not hospitalized, it was serous enough that she feared for her life. Her husband Stan Staggs said he managed to not to get infected, although several people at his work have been infected.

The couple said they were relieved to get their shots, and were grateful they didn’t have to travel far to get it.