Health

The race-based disparity in Kentucky’s COVID-19 vaccinations is slightly better than a month ago, but a health advocacy group’s new public service announcement campaign aims to encourage more Black Kentuckians to get vaccinated.

The “I Got The Shot” campaign features Black Kentuckians who got COVID-19 vaccines speaking to their counterparts in an effort to address possible concerns.

Participants in the campaign said historical mistrust of the medical community may cause Black Kentuckians to hesitate to get the vaccine. But their message is that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and necessary.

“I’ve had my vaccine, I’ve had my shot. And I’ve gotten it because I want to be around my family and friends. And I want to protect them. But at the same time I want them to protect me,” said board chair Vivian Lasley-Bibbs, who is Black.

In February, Gov. Andy Beshear said only about 4% of vaccines were going to Black Kentuckians, who make up more than 8% of the state’s population. That was in part due to prioritization of vaccines for the health care and education fields, in which Black people are underrepresented.

T Gonzales, director of Louisville’s Center for Health Equity, told WFPL News last month this is because of historical racist policies that blocked Black people from accessing education necessary to become health care workers and educators.

Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the advocacy organization Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said Thursday the administration of vaccines to Kentucky’s Black population is getting better.

But any improvement in Black vaccinations is modest. A Kentucky Public Health document using data from the Kentucky Immunization Registry indicates people who identify as Black or African American still make up about 4.4% of all unique patients who received a first vaccine dose.

Vaccines aren’t the only way the pandemic highlighted race-based health disparities in the state.

Black Kentuckians also experienced a higher rate of cases and deaths earlier in the pandemic. But as of Thursday, the state reported both cases and deaths were proportional to the percentage of Black Kentuckians.

Correction: This story has been updated to remove a quote from Ben Chandler that included incorrect information regarding the rate of vaccinations of Black Kentuckians. It has also been updated to incorporate accurate data from the state.

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Editor.