As Wisconsin nears the 50% mark, Black people remain half as likely to get vaccinated as White people

MADISON, Wis.– As Wisconsin approaches a milestone, 50% of people fully-vaccinated against COVID-19, a lingering and staggering disparity persists. Black people remain half as likely to get the vaccine as White people, according to state DHS data.

That begs the question: How do we reach the unvaccinated BIPOC community?

In the largest study of its kind released this week, the African American Research Collaborative surveyed more than 15,000 Black, Latino, and Native American people and found more than 40% are still hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 70% said it’s because they have trouble finding transportation or getting time off work. Nearly one-third said it’s their history with discrimination that’s made it hard to trust that vaccines are safe and effective.

And they’re not alone in their skepticism. In Wisconsin, vaccination rates vary due to a number of factors, like age, education, and party affiliation.

So what can be done?

The study’s authors suggest people are most likely to get vaccinated when their own doctor recommends it or the vaccine is brought into their neighborhood.

“We have worked hard to partner with community groups, churches, and health departments to try to break down some of those barriers,” explained Christina Gayman, a spokeswoman for HyVee, one of the Madison-area chains sending its pharmacists into underserved communities to explain vaccine options.

“Our pharmacists not only explain the options, but any potential side effects and the reason the CDC is recommending people get vaccinated,” Gayman said. “We give people the information they need to make the decision themselves.”

Locally, the University of Wisconsin’s School of Pharmacy is another example of how effective bringing vaccines directly to people can be. Since April, the school has hosted pop-up clinics inside Madison neighborhoods and other locations, like the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County.