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Orlando Commissioner Cites Accessibility, Not Hesitancy, For Discrepancy In Blacks' Vaccinations

Photo: Commissioner Burns and a resident talk vaccines.
Danielle Prieure/WMFE
: Commissioner Bakari Burns and a resident talk vaccines at a canvassing event Tuesday.

Bakari Burns says the closest vaccine site in his district, a Walmart in the Washington Shores area, is only doing 20 vaccines a week.

Orlando County Commissioner Bakari Burns says problems with accessibility, not hesitancy, are to blame for Black residents not getting vaccinated for the coronavirus.

Burns, who represents the city's District 6, held a canvassing event Tuesday at the Dr. James R. Smith Neighborhood Center asking residents about vaccine availability. 

His says his district has been hit hard by COVID-19, as many people in the community are essential workers who cannot work virtually.

Data show that Black residents are being vaccinated for coronavirus at a lower rate than other minorities in the community.  Burns says in Orange County more than 58,000 white people were vaccinated, while only about 7,200 Black people got the vaccine. 

“So it troubles me the disparity in these numbers. And some may say that it’s vaccine hesitancy, but what I’ve seen over the last couple of weeks is that more people are ready to take this vaccine, it’s just not been available,” says Burns,

Burns says the closest vaccine site at the Walmart in the Washington Shores area, a historically African American community, is only doing 20 vaccines a week.

Burns, the chief executive of a federal qualified health center in the region, says his clinic has not received any vaccines yet.

He says along with a shortage of shots, many seniors are also struggling to make appointments.

“So one of the things that my office will be doing. We will be taking the names and numbers of seniors who have expressed a desire to get the vaccine," he says. "We’re going to be keeping that list and as these appointments open up we’re going to be taking it upon ourselves to register them ourselves.”

Burns says his office will also try to coordinate transportation for these seniors to vaccine sites.

Copyright 2021 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Danielle Prieur