September 16, 2021- Black Richmond kids and teens ages 12 and older are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 at much lower rates than their White and Latino counterparts. RHHD estimates that White kids and teenagers are vaccinated at a rate two to three times higher than that of Black kids and teenagers. “We anticipate factors such as lack of access to resources that allow parents to get their kids vaccinated and distrust of healthcare and governmental systems play a role,” explains Jackie Lawrence, Director of Health Equity at RHHD. “Low vaccination rates are one of many ways that racism in the medical community has a long standing impact on how folks access lifesaving healthcare services.”

“While children tend to recover well from COVID-19, the potential to spread it to more vulnerable individuals in their family is high,” explains Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director at RHHD. “This disparity is deeply concerning to us, especially as we move into the fall and winter months when there is higher community transmission… Black communities were already disproportionately impacted last year before we had vaccinations.”

In addition to RHHD’s ongoing outreach and vaccination efforts, RHHD plans to combat this disparity with a three part action plan:

  •  Transparency and data sharing: RHHD will inform the general public on this disparity. RHHD will also provide special communication to key stakeholders (namely schools, faith communities, pediatricians, and parents) on the disparity so data trends can inform their work.
  • Outreach and education: RHHD will expand its partnerships with afterschool programs, youth employers, sports leagues, youth group homes, and more to provide youth an opportunity to ask questions and receive accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Vaccination opportunities: RHHD will partner with schools and other youth-focused partners to offer COVID-19 vaccinations onsite. RHHD will also continue to monitor areas with low vaccine uptake to offer COVID-19 vaccines in those areas.

“RHHD will continue building relationships with our neighbors, embedding vaccination opportunities within local African American communities, and developing partnerships with community leaders,” says Amy Popovich, Nurse Manager at RHHD. “This disparity weighs heavily on us and we are ready to keep showing up for our local communities.” COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in Richmond. To find a COVID-19 vaccination opportunity, visit or call 804-205-3501.

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