70% of Virginia adults vaccinated with at least one dose, but disparities remain

Posted at 11:52 PM, Jun 23, 2021

HAMPTON, Va. – Life is starting to look closer to normal as more Virginians get vaccinated.

The Peninsula Educate and Vaccinate team held another event with live music at Paradise Ocean Club Wednesday, but this time the group brought in the Hampton University Mobile vaccine clinic to reach more people reluctant to get the COVID shot, especially young and Black people.

Well-known disc jockey Derrick Isabell “Izzy the DJ” and 31-year old singer/songwriter Jus Jon both used their platforms to encourage their fans to roll up their sleeves.

“I lost family members to COVID and friends, so definitely that played a role in while I was doing my research and me making my decision,” said Isabell. “I would tell everybody, all my followers, friends do your research and do what you got to do.”

Both men got over their fears and overcame vaccine hesitancy. They reminded others to drown out any misinformation.

“Don't listen to what everybody says about everything just because somebody says you shouldn’t get your shot or this happened and this happened,” Jus Jon said. “The reality is, at the end of the day we all want to be safe. We all want to be vaccinated, so this doesn't happen again, especially with the new variant out.”

Earlier this week, Virginia hit a goal of vaccinating 70% of adults with at least one COVID-19 dose, but Dr. Danny Avula who leads the vaccination rollout said the state still has a long way to go with increasing the number of shots in arms, especially among the young and Black community.

“There are specific demographics where we do need to really increase vaccination rates,” he said. “Young people, for example, our rates of vaccination of 16 to 34-year olds is under 50%. I think clearly social media and what's circulating around the Internet is playing a big part of that too. There's so much misinformation out there. Myths around that the vaccine can cause infertility; that the vaccine has microchips in it; that people who have had COVID don't need to be vaccinated, and so many others.”

According to VDH, of the number of at least one dose of the vaccine given out, 15% went to Blacks and 59% went to whites.

Avula said a lot of the hesitancy has to do with government mistrust.

“I do think it is culture and how information is passed down from generation to generation,” he said. “African Americans are about 19 and a half percent of Virginians, yet only 15% of our vaccinations have gone to that group. So, we do have a lot of work to do. We have worked really hard to make connections with different community partners.”

Mattie, a healthy 28-year old from Hampton doesn’t plan on getting the vaccine. She said she’s had COVID and would rather wait to see if there are any long-term effects from the shot.

“I think it just kind of depends on your own personal experience with vaccines and things like that,” she said. “For me, knowing I also already got COVID, I feel that my antibodies are doing what they need to do.”

Even so, health experts said immunity from the vaccine is more robust than from natural infection and offers better protection from the Delta variant first seen in India and recently found in Virginia.

A total of 24 people got their COVID shot at the Hampton mobile vaccine clinic Wednesday.