Nashville health officials are crediting targeted events for helping to close the gap in COVID vaccination rates between Black and white residents. Roughly half of people over 65 years old in each demographic have received at least one dose.
Earlier this month, it was roughly half of white residents eligible for the vaccine who had taken it, but less than a third of Black residents.
Even as the city was vaccinating 10,000 people in one day at Nissan Stadium — an event described by health department leaders as “predominantly Caucasian — another team was giving shots at Lee Chapel AME in the heart of one of Nashville’s historically black neighborhoods.
Debbie Jefferson opted for that site near her home. She’s a preschool teacher, which means she had been eligible to get the shot for more than a month.
“I wanted to go somewhere close,” she says. “So when they said Lee Chapel was available, I told my cousin, ‘come on, let’s go.’”
Jefferson says she was also motivated by her 75-year-old mother, who also decided to take the vaccine.
The Lee Chapel AME was among the largest city events targeting underserved populations with nearly shots given that day. Metro Health has given 8,000 doses in these smaller vaccination events at Black churches, a mosque and immigrant gathering places.
Nashville health officials say they probably won’t be doing another mass vaccination like the one at Nissan Stadium last weekend because the smaller events are better for achieving equity. One event had to be cancelled Thursday because of stormy weather. But two vaccination clinics at Black churches are scheduled over the weekend.
“To be honest, there is still the trust factor in the Black and brown community,” says Dr. Joanna Shaw-KaiKai of the Metro Public Health Department. “That’s why we’re doing more outreach.”