Black Oregonians Still Low Ranking In Vaccinations

In the state of Oregon, it’s still harder for people of color to get the vaccine. “There’s a long history of that medical injustice that has happened that has led to distrust of the medical community,” said Dr. Bukhosi Dube, senior health adviser with the Oregon Health Authority.” And it’s justifiable. You talk about, I’m sure you’ve heard about this — the Tuskegee trials, the story of Henrietta Lacks, J. Marion Sims.”

That’s one of the reasons Dube said it’s harder for minority groups to trust the vaccine. Another issue is access. “If you have to catch two, three buses to get to a vaccine event, to get to a place to get vaccinated, that’s not convenient, that’s not easily accessible,” Dube said. “If you have to take time off work to go and get your kids vaccinated, that’s not entirely convenient or easily accessible if your work is tied to your ability to make ends meet. Your ability to pay rent, to put food on the table.”

In Oregon, fewer than 60% of African Americans and Latinos are fully vaccinated, whereas about 67% of the white population is fully vaccinated. Over the summer, state health officials were worried about the number of African Americans being admitted into hospitals, urging them to get vaccinated to end the trend. Multnomah County Public Health Director Jessica Gurnsey said the county is still working very hard to reach these different communities.

Oregon is focused on increasing vaccination rates among people of color through outreach and education and reducing access and logistical barriers to vaccination, increased interest in getting the vaccine due to spread of the Delta variant, and increases in vaccinations among younger adults and adolescents who include higher shares of people of color compared to other adults.