OMAHA, Neb — In Omaha, Black people are being vaccinated at the slowest rate. In Douglas County, 51.2% of the white population is fully vaccinated compared to only 31.3% of Black people.
Leaders in the Black community say that while distrust in the medical field has left some hesitant, a lack of access has also played a part in these disparities.
Pastor Selwyn Bachus of Salem Baptist Church says this is just a reflection of what has always been.
"The truth is historically these disparities have been systemic. Black folks and brown folks have, over the past 200 years, have always suffered worse than the white community. This is just a reflection of what has always been and, hopefully, those things can begin to change. It’s unfair," Bachus said.
To aid in closing these gaps the Douglas County Health Department has partnered with various churches throughout North Omaha to host vaccine clinics starting on Saturday, May 15.
"We do have a long-term relationship with some of them and this is increasingly important. As we go along there might be some vaccine hesitancy and some of the people in the community were saying that churches would be a good way to go. Many of those faith groups do have health ministries so it was a really natural thing to pull together," said Phil Rooney, Resource Specialist for the Douglas County Health Department. "This is just building on established relationships and I think it’s going to pay off in the future."
Rooney says people are more willing to get the vaccine at places they already trust.
"We expect people are going to feel more comfortable getting it from a faith-based organization, people they know, people who look like them. We know that’s very important whether that’s COVID-19 vaccine or any other healthcare, so we’re trying to get more African-American doctors and nurses involved in this situation so people can get the vaccine from people they trust," Rooney said.
Bachus is excited to be able to use Salem Baptist as a way to further help his community. He said their facilities are a great place to host a vaccine clinic.
"We’ve had some questions and some concerns because much of the access was not close to our community in north Omaha specifically and that’s why we are privileged to have this event on our property so people can get to it very quickly and have a great access. It won’t be that they have to travel all across town and that access is extremely important," Bachus said.
Vaccine clinics will be held on the following days at these churches:
- Saturday, May 15: Morning Star Baptist from 11:00 am - 4:00 pm 2019 Burdette Street
- Tuesday, May 18: Trinity Lutheran Church from 4:00 - 7:00 pm 6340 N. 30th Street
- Wednesday, May 19: Salem Baptist Church from 4:00 - 7:00 pm (drive thru) 3131 Lake Street
- Thursday, May 20: Pleasant Green Baptist Church from 4:00 - 7:00 pm 5555 Larimore Ave
- Saturday, May 22: New Life Presbyterian Church from 11:00 am - 3:00 pm 4060 Pratt Street
Pfizer will be administered so these clinics will be available to everyone 12 and older. You can register online and walk-ins are welcome.