The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, April 07, 2021 1:00 am

City to address vaccine disparity

Task force to promote minority registration


COVID-19 vaccination numbers across Indiana are growing, but some groups lag in obtaining protection against the virus that so far has sickened 692,240 Hoosiers – or about 1 in 10 residents.

The Indiana State Department of Health reported Tuesday that 1,266,129 residents have been fully vaccinated with either a two-shot or single-shot regimen.

In recent weeks, that number has been growing by about 25,000 a day, so about 19% of Hoosiers have been fully vaccinated. The percentage becomes greater if those younger than 16, who are not eligible to receive vaccination, are subtracted from the total population.

Some racial and ethnic groups are not getting vaccinated in proportion to their population in the state, however. Fort Wayne officials said they will address the issue soon.

The unvaccinated are in the same groups that suffered disproportionately from the pandemic, according to the Vaccine Messaging Task Force, a committee of the Allen County Health Equity Coalition.

The group plans a news conference for 1 p.m. Thursday at the Wayne Township Trustee's office to announce Vaccine Registration Week, an effort to encourage the unvaccinated to register for the shots.

Indiana is getting $60.8 million in federal money to support programs to sign up minority populations.

The funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will support efforts such as door-to-door outreach to raise awareness about vaccinations or help people sign up.

The money comes from pandemic relief spending approved by Congress. Indiana's funding is part of $3 billion the CDC is distributing among 64 jurisdictions.

Statewide, the percentage of whites who are fully vaccinated is about equal to their percentage in the eligible population, Blacks and Asians are not.

Blacks are 9.4% of the state's eligible population but only 5.3% percent of the vaccinated. Asians' comparable figures are 2.6% and 1.7%

Hispanics, who comprise 6.4% of the eligible population, make up 2.4% of the fully vaccinated.

Allen County statistics do not differ by much, according to Dr. Matthew Sutter, county health commissioner.

As of March 19, Blacks, who represent 12% of Allen County's population, totaled 5.5% of those fully vaccinated. Representation for Asians, 4.6% of the population, stood at 2.5%.

Hispanics, who are about 7.5% of the county's population, represented 2.4% of vaccinations.

The health equity coalition, managed by HealthVisions Midwest, will use community volunteers to assist in registering those who wish to receive vaccinations.

The group, which previously has provided medical translation services, is among a few providing vaccine registration encouragement to potentially underserved communities.

Groups include Catholic Charities, which in recent days targeted a vaccination outreach to resettled refugees from Myanmar, formerly Burma.

Allen County now has 60,920 fully vaccinated residents, ranking fourth in the state behind Marion, Hamilton and Lake counties. About 33,000 more Allen residents have had a first dose of the vaccine.

The county Tuesday reported three more deaths from COVID-19 and 42 new confirmed cases, bringing the total cases to 33,308 and deaths to 666.

Statewide, 669 new confirmed cases and 11 new deaths were reported Tuesday, bringing totals to 692,240 cases and 12,679 confirmed deaths, plus 405 probable deaths in patients for whom no positive test is no record.

DeKalb County on Tuesday reported two new confirmed cases and no deaths, bringing totals to 4,031 cases and 78 deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

At a Glance

Fully vaccinated residents

Adams: 5,776

Allen: 60,920

DeKalb: 6,873

Huntington: 7,487

Kosciusko: 11,117

LaGrange: 3,942

Noble: 6,957

Steuben: 8,257

Wabash: 5,907

Wells: 4,898

Whitley: 6,257

Source: Indiana State Department of Health

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