As new cases of COVID-19 rise in the state, the Oklahoma Black Legislative Caucus said minority communities are behind in getting the vaccine.
The Oklahoma State Health Department is hoping to increase the vaccination rate in minority and underserved communities with a $43 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control.
Health department officials said the new grant will address any COVID-related disparities across Oklahoma.
“We're going to offer funding opportunities through a competitive like mini grants, so that underserved and our community-based organizations can have access,” Floritta Pope with the OSDH’s office of minority health and health equity said.
Pope said this grant will mainly focus on underserved, rural or minority communities. Right now, there are about 1.6 million people fully vaccinated.
Out of that number, around 68,000 Black people are fully vaccinated.
“The plan is to put about $6 million dollars into community-based organizations, and $3 million dollars to faith-based organizations for the work that they're doing and another $3 million is going to go through the tribal (sic),” Pope said.
Local representatives said there is still work to be done as the Delta variant spreads throughout the state.
“We encourage everyone to get vaccinated, but unfortunately in the state of Oklahoma and across this country, African Americans,” state Rep. Jason Lowe said. “When the rest of the nation gets a cold, we get a flu, so there's disparities in healthcare, there's disparities in education.”
“Healthcare is a right for Oklahomans and they just know deserve adequate access to COVID vaccinations,” state Rep. Ajay Pittman said. “We need safety protocols to be reinstated to help protect our economy, our healthcare system, our educational institutions and all Oklahomans including our impoverished communities and our homeless population, our communities of color and tribal communities.”