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State COVID-19 taskforce to ask for White House support on minority vaccine effort

Posted at 6:24 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 18:24:30-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Right now a big challenge with COVID-19 vaccines in the Big Bend is making sure some of the most vulnerable communities get vaccinated. The statewide task force overseeing those efforts is now asking for support.

The Department of Health reports only five percent of African-American seniors and frontline workers have received their vaccines in Florida. Doctors like Ivan Porter said getting more people vaccinated is about outreach.

"Sometimes the facts aren't enough," said Mayo Clinic Chair of Community Engagement Committee Dr. Ivan Porter. "Talking about what the vaccine actually prevents, talking about what we know, really focusing on the facts we do know has worked for me."

Now the statewide coronavirus task force is hoping the nation's highest leaders can help make that possible through a town hall with the White House administration. The hope is for it to include Vice President Kamala Harris and Infectious Disease Expert Anthony Fauci.

Right now, Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson is in charge of getting connected with the Biden Administration. He will then talk to them about the task force's goals and how the federal government can get more vaccines here to the Big Bend, especially for people in under-served communities.

"I think it's important that we connect with Washington as well," said Larry Robinson. "You have the right people that have been assembled to be part of this."

President Joe Biden wants to have 100 million coronavirus vaccines administered in his first 100 days. The task force is hoping that means a greater chance of getting people in the Big Bend vaccinated. Holmes recognizes it's going to take a team effort to get it done.

"The government can't do it by themselves. We all need to reach out as partners to help us do this," said Pastor Holmes.

Over at Florida State University's new vaccination site, there's another set of challenges.

"These are there people that don't have email access so we can't send mass emails, phone numbers that aren't accurate, we're leaving multiple messages, so we still have a significant number of those over the age of 65, particularly in the black and brown communities," said Daniel Van Durme with the FSU College of Medicine.

As they work through those challenges, the university is preparing to offer vaccines to people who are considered extremely vulnerable; including people with conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes.

The next meeting will be on March 3.

The group hopes to have a final budget by then, along with a better idea of who will be on that proposed town hall panel.

Another effort to get people vaccinated, expanding vaccines into Walmart, Sam's Club and more Publix.

You must register on their websites in order to get an appointment.