CLEVELAND — Jason Garrett and his wife have felt COVID-19's grip firsthand after catching the virus overseas.
“They forced her [Garrett’s wife] to go into quarantine for 14 days before we returned to the United States,” said Garrett. “I didn’t want to leave her in Mexico, so I stayed in quarantine with her and ended up contracting COVID as well."
Months later, as Ohio lifts restrictions and reports 46% of the population has gotten the vaccine, Garrett is among those who still haven't received it.
“To me personally I felt like there just wasn’t enough information and we were just trying to get people vaccinated," said Garrett.
Garrett isn’t alone in his sentiments. The Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition said back on May 21, only 1 in 6 black people in Northeast Ohio was fully vaccinated; that was about 16% of Northeast Ohio’s black population.
That number is higher today — about 26% of Cuyahoga County's Black population is now fully vaccinated, according to Ohio Department of Health statistics from June 14 — but the area's Black community is still far behind other races in our area.
“We can’t send mixed messages. We can’t tell people that we are going to open up and they think that everything is fine,” said Yvonka Hall, Executive Director of Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition. “For our community, we are a long way off of herd immunity.”
The chart above shows how the different races' first-shot vaccination rates in Cuyahoga County compare.
Hall said the issue isn’t just vaccine hesitancy or mistrust, but also education and accessibility.
“We need to make sure that we’re going door to door, that we’re getting to people’s homes that we’re getting to people’s places of worship,” said Hall. “Whatever we need to do in order for people to get a vaccination in their arm.”
Meanwhile, Garrett says he needs a bit more time before taking the step to get vaccinated.
“With the more information that comes out, the more people we know who are vaccinated and not having side effects, the more we can see this play out is when I think you’ll see more of us open our eyes and be more willing to take the vaccine," said Garrett.
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