CLEVELAND — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and other state leaders are launching a new effort in hopes of boosting vaccination rates among minority populations across Ohio.
According to the state's vaccination dashboard, about 4% of Black Ohioans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 10% of White Ohioans.
"We don't assume that people have access to the best information or to experts all the time. And so we want to be sure that we provide that," said Ursel McElroy, the director for the state's Department of Aging. "We understand that there are many Ohioans across the state who may be ambivalent about taking the vaccine. But we also know that providing accurate information and increasing access can help in that personal decision making."
In an effort to provide accurate information, McElroy said they're launching a series of virtual town hall meetings on Feb. 22.
But Pastor Aaron Phillips, the executive director of the Cleveland Clergy Coalition, said he isn't sure Black Ohioans need more convincing.
"What we really need, is the vaccine," he said.
Phillips said he wants to see a new strategy to get the vaccine into minority communities.
"We have been told there's not enough vaccine, but then I was watching the news and saw people taking the vaccine on Valentine's Day. But they weren't in our community," Phillips said.
So, he and other local clergy are offering a different solution.
"If we could get the vaccine in churches, have people taking the vaccine, we will see people come in and take the vaccine."
Phillips said the coalition has a plan to bus people to larger churches for vaccination clinics and he said people are ready to roll up their sleeves.
"We've been reaching out to the community to educate and demonstrate that the vaccine is safe, so we really don't need another piece of that. We need the vaccine to get here more than a town hall in my opinion," Phillips said.
The first series of town hall meetings will begin Feb. 22. Here's a list of scheduled meetings, listed on the state's website:
- Monday, Feb. 22, 6:30 p.m. – African American Ohioans
- Tuesday, Feb. 23, 6:30 p.m. – Hispanic/Latino Ohioans
- Monday, March 1, 6:30 p.m. – Asian American and Pacific Islander Ohioans
- Tuesday, March 2, 6:30 p.m. – Rural Ohioans
Click here to watch the meetings.