What's being done to improve minority access to COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 2:53 PM, Jan 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-20 19:03:50-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Drive down William Street in Buffalo and you’ll notice a new COVID-19 drive-thru rapid testing site in front of Back to Basics Outreach.

“They have thousands of tests here, and we’re prepared to do that,” said Back to Basics President, Pastor James Giles. You don't need an appointment to get tested. The clinic also offers them for free to those who are eligible.

Giles partnered with Rapha Family Medicine to offer the testing site, and they’re hoping to eventually offer COVID-19 vaccines there, too.

“One, we need the vaccine. And two, we need to partner with New York State to get this to people who normally wouldn’t have access,” said Rapha Project Manager, Mike Crimi.

The goal is to open five drive-thru vaccination locations in Buffalo. Giles said access will improve the vaccination rate among minorities.

But, until they get the supply, Giles said one of the largest barriers is health literacy. He said there’s a misconception among minorities that the vaccine isn’t safe. “All new can do is educate them, and then live by example say hey listen my entire team got vaccinated and they live in this community.”

“The solution’s not the vaccine. It’s vaccination,” explained Dr. Raul Vazquez.

Vazquez is a physician with Urban Family Medicine. “There’s a lot of fake info on the web and a lot of people are believing that in our communities," he said. He practices medicine on the lower west side where a majority of his patients are black or brown. he says just as access is key to vaccinations, so too is education.“They’re getting education so they aren’t miss lead, and they know how important these vaccines are.”