Delaware takes steps to tackle racial disparities in COVID-19 vaccinations

Nurse Kolubah Goniah is vaccinated against COVID-19

Nurse Kolubah Goniah was one of the first Delawareans to get vaccinated, but racial disparities have hampered the state's rollout. (State of Delaware)

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Delaware’s COVID-19 vaccination program is expanding efforts to reach “underserved, minority communities,’’ Gov. John Carney’s office announced Tuesday.

The new push comes as the state’s data shows that of 103,791 doses administered so far, just 4% of the recipients are Black and 2% identified as Latino or Hispanic. Statewide, 22% of residents are Black and 10% Hispanic, state population figures show.

A total of 31% of vaccination records did not contain the race of the recipient, leading Carney to order providers to promptly report race and other demographic information promptly to the Division of Public Health.

To decrease the racial disparities, the state is taking these steps:

  • Working with the Wilmington Housing Authority this week to vaccinate people age 65 and over who live in high-rise buildings as part of an effort to reach senior citizens who don’t have access to technology or have mobility challenges.
  • Sending 4,000 extra doses to pharmacies in “underserved communities,” Carney’s office said.
  • Partnering with major hospital systems and specialty care providers, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, to create vaccination events for senior citizens, “including underserved populations.”

Delaware is in Phase 1B of its COVID-19 vaccination program, with people age 65 and over and certain health care, education, and other frontline workers eligible.

People 65 and over can register for the waiting list here or call 1-833-643-1715.

“Our goal remains the same: we’re working to vaccinate as many Delawareans as possible, as quickly as possible,” Carney said in a statement. “We also need to make sure we’re distributing the vaccine equitably and reaching especially those Delaware seniors who are less mobile and don’t have access to a computer or smartphone.”

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