Florida COVID-19 vaccines in underserved communities improving, but hesitancy and gaps remain

ORLANDO, Fla. — Data now shows vaccination rates are improving for Black and Hispanic Floridians, but they’re still much lower than the overall average, despite all adults being eligible.

Efforts to help get more underrepresented communities vaccinated included campaigns to sign people up at locations like Sedano’s that were frequented by those groups.

Read: Here’s where to find the COVID-19 vaccine in your county

The data shows some of that has worked, but there’s still a long way to go.

“We’re seeing reduction in vaccine hesitancy,” said Father Jose Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said all the church vaccination events, door knocking, grocery store sign-ups, and word-of-mouth encouragement is working.

“People will tend to listen to a friend,” he said.

Watch: Florida’s education commissioner calls for schools to remove mask mandates in the fall

State data shows 20% of the overall population in Florida has been vaccinated.

But statewide and in Central Florida, the percentage of the Black and Hispanic populations that have been vaccinated in each is still much lower, around 6% to 10%.

Lingering vaccine hesitancy is part of the issue.

Watch: COVID vaccines may help “long-haulers” with lingering symptoms, doctors say

In some counties the gap is explained more by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Seniors First policy, which is a disproportionately white demographic.

Rodriguez said innovation alone may not be enough to overcome the challenges they’re now facing with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine pause.

See the full report in the video above.