BALTIMORE — With concerns about racial inequities in Maryland’s rollout of the vaccine, a local church in Baltimore hosted a vaccination clinic on Friday focused on addressing the disparities.
Johns Hopkins and Maryland’s vaccine equity task force partnered with Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church to help about 200 members of the Latin X community receive their second dose of the vaccine.
“These folks will go tell their family and friends. The word will start to spread. That’s how we build the confidence,” said Acting Secretary of Health Dennis Schrader.
Schrader and State Senate President Bill Ferguson were among the officials who visited the site as they stressed the important role faith institutions play in reaching under-served communities.
“What we know to be true is if we make it accessible, if we make it easy, if we bring it to the community, people will come,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson also said there were long lines out the door when he arrived which he suggested debunks the myth there’s vaccine hesitancy in certain communities.
To date, more than 1.5 million Marylanders received their first dose of the vaccine. About 65 % of them are white, which is far outpacing minority communities.
For comparison, out of the people who received their first dose in Maryland, only 20 percent are African Americans and trailing even further behind is the Latin X community at 4%.
“It’s important that we build the capacity and then continue and build the relationships so we can get into the community to that last person who cannot get out of their bed to get their shot,” said National Guard Gen Janeen Birkhead, who is the head of the state’s vaccine equity task force. “That’s what we’re building by doing these community based clinics where we are building trust.”