Coronavirus: Clark County works to encourage more Blacks, Hispanics to get vaccinated

Clark County officials are working to encourage more Blacks, Hispanics, and other people of color to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

In a new video, by the Clark County Combined Health District, several prominent members of the Black community encourage people of color to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by sharing their reasons for receiving the shots.

The video includes Logan Cobbs, assistant to Springfield’s City Manager, Eli Williams, president and CEO of Urban Light Ministries, Roger Evans, Springfield’s former chief of police, Willie White, pastor of Greater Grace Temple, Nettie Carter-Smith, director of Community Relations for Rocking Horse Community Health Center and others.

“We need to dispel the fear, and as a community, we need unity,” White says in the video.

Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson said the video is just one way the health district, Rocking Horse Community Health Center and other local community leaders are attempting to bridge the gap in COVID-19 vaccinations between people of color and the white community.

“There is hesitancy there. We understand that and we are trying to open the conversation around that,” Patterson said.

As of Thursday, 15,816 vaccination shots had been given in Clark County, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Of those vaccinations, 5.72% have gone to African Americas and 1.79% to Hispanics.

According to data from the United States Census Bureau, as of July 2019, 16.9 % of Clark County’s population identified as something other than white. They identified primarily as African American, Hispanic, Asian or Native American.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Dr. Yamini Teegala, Chief Medical Director at Rocking Horse Community Health Center, said the county’s rate of vaccinations among people of color is entirely too low — but on par with national statistics.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 60.4% of all COVID-19 vaccines that have been given in the United States have gone to those who identify as white. Just 5.4% have gone to African Americans.

But nationally, African Americans are 1.4 times more likely to contract COVID-19 and 2.8 times more likely to die from it, according to the CDC.

In Clark County, 40.2% of all the county’s COVID-19 cases we’re made up of a race other than white, according to data from the CCCHD.

“I really think the problem is very big and the chasm is large,” Teegala said. “There is still a lot of distrust in a lot of communities but we’re trying to have those conversations. We’ve had town halls, we’ve reached out to funeral directors, churches, faith-based organizations and hair salons to see how we can reach out to all of these areas to have an open and honest conversation about the vaccine.”

As of Monday, Rocking Horse had given out roughly 560 vaccines. Of those, 21% have gone to people of color, Teegala said, and that’s something she’s happy about.

“In my opinion, that’s a very large number. But that’s only possible due to the recent large targeted effort we’ve been running,” Teegala said.

One person both Rocking Horse and Patterson credit with helping with outreach, specifically in the African American community, is Patty Young, owner of Young Hair and president of Sister United for Prevention, an organization dedicated to the prevention of cancer in women of color.

Young said in December Rocking Horse reached out to her about getting involved with drumming up interest for the vaccine.

“I’ve been in hair for over 50 years. I’m from Springfield and therefore I know a lot of people and a lot of families in this town. So I was able to help step up some connections with the major churches,” Young said. “Being the president of Sisters United for Prevention, it wasn’t a question about if I wanted to help. It’s just like cancer. It’s worse than cancer.”

Young said she felt compelled to help because she “knew too many people that had lost the battle with the virus.”

“At the time when I first got involved, my husband and I were quarantined, we were fine thankfully, but my daughter has asthma and I was terrified. At the same time, I had a friend who was going to bury her husband,” Young said. “I know too many people, and just about all minorities in this city have lost someone. We’ve lost friends and family.”

At first, Young helped by assisting Rocking Horse and the CCCHD with setting up contacts with local churches and other community members. But when the vaccine became available to more people, the CCCHD asked Young if she would be willing to help schedule appointments for people of color.

She said she knew she didn’t have the time to schedule appointments but was interested in helping. That’s when she brought her sister, Deborah Woods, president of the Springfield Section of National Council of Negro Women, onboard.

“Since then, I’ve been working with the health district. They allot me appointments to register minorities and people call me up and I can register them,” Woods said. “I’ve probably registered 70 people.”

Woods said she mostly assisted those who are elderly and might not have access to the internet or other registration options. She said sometimes the reason people reach out to her instead of going through more technical channels is that they want help from someone they know.

“People calling me because they can’t get through other places. They are getting a busy signal. Or sometimes they just feel like they aren’t being listened to,” Woods said. “I have people calling me all day and night, up until like 9 p.m. That’s just the need that’s out there.”

On Wednesday, Woods and Young coordinated a virtual townhall with health care professionals from the CCCHD and Rocking Horse. The event, named ‘Why it is important for people of color to get the vaccine,’ had hundreds of RSVPs and attendees.

“If I can help one person, I’m happy because I would like to see a world where our community isn’t worried about COVID,” Woods said.

Patterson said it likely won’t be until a week or so that the county’s new efforts will be reflected in ODH data.

“We’re hopeful we’ll start to see the impact this has in the next week,” Patterson said. “We really think by using these interventions we’re going to start seeing a difference and if we don’t, then we’ll try something else.”

Clark County had 11,838 cases of the coronavirus as of Thursday afternoon, according to ODH. The county also had 292 deaths and 13 probable deaths, according to data from the CCCHD.

Facts & Figures

15,816: Vaccine shots given in Clark County as of Thursday

5.72: Percentage of those vaccinations that have gone to African Americans

1.79: Percentage of vaccinations that have gone to Hispanics

Source: Ohio Department of Health

Where to register for COVID-19 vaccines in Clark County

Individuals who are 65 and older can schedule an appointment with one of Clark County’s nine providers.

Clark County Combined Health District, in partnership with Mercy Health, will begin scheduling appointments for qualifying individuals this on Friday morning. Appointments can be made by calling 937-717-2439 or at

CVS Pharmacy, located at 2565 E. Main St., is scheduling appointments online at or via the CVS app.

Walgreens, located at 2609 E. Main St., is scheduling appointments online at

Rocking Horse Community Health Center, located at 651 S. Limestone St., is offering vaccine appointments only during varied hours. Rocking Horse patients will take priority. Valid identification and insurance information will be collected, however, no one will be turned away due to insurance status. To schedule an appointment call 937-525-4521.

The New Carlisle Community Health Center, located at 106 N. Main St. in New Carlisle, is scheduling appointments by phone at 937-543-0310.

Three Springfield-area Kroger pharmacy locations — 2728 East Main Street, 965 North Bechtle Avenue, and 2989 Derr Road — are offering the vaccine. Customers are encouraged to visit or call the company’s COVID-19 vaccine helpline at 866-211-5320 for the latest information.

Discount Drug Mart, located at 7617 Dayton Springfield Rd. in Fairborn, is scheduling appointments on their website at or by phone at 937-863-0045.

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