CHICAGO (CBS) — In an effort to make sure communities of color get vaccinated against COVID-19, a coalition of Black churches, organizations, fraternities, sororities, and elected officials teamed up to organize a mass vaccination event Tuesday morning in west suburban Aurora.
CBS 2’s Mugo Odigwe reports organizers said more than 750 people will get a shot by the end of the day at the community vaccination site at Cathedral of Grace St. John AME Church, the largest and oldest Black church in Aurora.READ MORE: Five States, Puerto Rico Added To City's Travel Order; Wisconsin, Iowa, Two Other States Removed From Travel Restrictions
This is important for so many reasons. The sooner people get that shot in the arm, the sooner we can hopefully beat COVID-19.
It’s also important to make sure Black and Brown communities, who have been most affected by the virus, have easy access to the vaccine.
“We’re dealing with a deadly pandemic, and the Black and Brown and poor communities of America are suffering the burden at a higher rate,” said Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin.
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people of color are more likely to contract COVID-19 than White people. African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are two to three times more likely to require hospitalization.
But they’re also less likely to be able to get the vaccine.
“Inequities of vaccination distribution are a sad reality in America, and right here in Aurora,” Irvin said.READ MORE: With Vaccinations Lagging And COVID Cases Rising Among Black Chicagoans, Mayor Lightfoot Says 'We Need To Send Out The Alarm'
Irvin said, of the 88,000 vaccines administered in Kane County, only 2.8% have gone to the Black community, which – according to Census data – makes up about 6% of the county’s population.
In response, a group known as Black Vax Aurora was formed in an effort to improve equity and access to the vaccine for the Black community.
Along with the help of Ivin and VNA Health Care, more than 750 people will get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday at Cathedral of Grace St. John AME Church.
“I’ve said from the beginning that we have to be intentional about our effort to vaccinate Black and Brown Illinoisans, and communities that have been left out and left behind for far too long,” Gov. JB Pritzker said.
This first community wide initiative in Aurora is part of that plan, with more to come.
“We’re actively planning other community vaccination clinics for the Latino community on March 19th, and for persons with disabilities on March 25th,” Irvin said.MORE NEWS: Cook County Health Releasing Nearly 10,000 First-Dose Vaccine Appointments Tuesday
Registration was required for Tuesday’s mass vaccination event, and all the spots were taken in less than 24 hours.