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As East Side COVID-19 vaccination site nears opening, vaccine demographic gaps persist

According to New York's vaccine tracker, the largest demographic gap in Western New York is among African Americans who are eligible to receive the vaccine.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Delavan Grider Community Center in Buffalo will vaccinate people in underserved communities for the first week, then open to others in eligible categories in Erie County.

According to New York State’s vaccine tracker, nearly 9 percent of African Americans in Western New York are eligible to receive the vaccine, but only 3.7 percent have received at least one dose. That’s the largest gap of any demographic by race.

"It's disappointing to see, so the federal government and the state have joined together to for this pop-up clinic to try to alleviate that," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.  

We heard from Reverend Mark Blue, president of the NAACP Buffalo chapter, who sits on the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Task Force about what it will take to make up vaccine demographic gaps.

"The best way to do it, is through testimonials, if grandma gets a vaccine or grandpa gets a vaccine, word of mouth is the best form of advertisement, if they get it, they’re going to tell their children and other generations to get this vaccine," Blue said.

Not only word of mouth, but also the power of social media.

"One of the things that we have to do is, again, we’ll talk to social media outlets that we have — Facebook, Twitter — any type of social media outlet that we have, we want to use that we also want to make sure we talk to the churches as well," Blue said.

And, when we went on the state’s ‘Am I Eligible’ website, we found thousands of appointments available for weeks.

"This particular site Delavan Grider Community Center gives more access to the community center, it’s going to be a great challenge, but a great opportunity as well," Blue said.

He admits it’s still an ongoing effort of correcting misinformation about the vaccine.

"There is still some, but that can be easily overcome by the fact that our loved ones, we want to see them again, we want to hug them again," Blue said.

Reverend Blue also says you can expect to see more pop-up clinics being announced by the state, to get more people vaccinated.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown issued a statement on Delavan Grider becoming a vaccination site: 

“The City of Buffalo is proud to work with our partners to ensure equity and to protect our most vulnerable neighbors from COVID-19. This vaccination site at the Delavan Grider Community Center is a positive step toward returning our community to normal."