NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Arkansas Department of Health reports African Americans make up only 10.6% of people vaccinated in Arkansas but the census shows they make up almost 16% of the total population.

Lindsey Leverett-Higgins and Quinton Green are with the NWA Dr. MLK council. They say this disproportion shines a light on racial disparities in health care.

“Systematic racism, they feel that when they are working with a healthcare professional that often times their concerns are not heard and their concerns are not taken seriously,” Leverett-Higgins said.

“For example, when you talk about the 1940s or 1950s because of those earlier experiences that have transpired throughout generation after generation after generation,” Green said.

President Biden has designated health centers to receive shipments of the vaccine to reach vulnerable populations.

A recent study done by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows the majority of people who got their first shot from these centers were people of color. One health center that’s in our area is Community Clinic.

“There are groups that have had less access to quality information and we need to change that and so I think recognition is the first step,” Dr. Gary Berner said.

Now the council is working with other organizations and the community clinic to get more people vaccinated with a mass vaccination event.

“Ensuring that we are partnering with those key organizations that target the African American community to really help to educate our community and to encourage them to seek opportunities to get vaccinated,” Leverett-Higgins said.

“I think also we have to have more minorities at the decision-making table,” Green said. “You can’t make decisions if you don’t have those that are impacted at the table.”

They all say this vaccine clinic is just one of many they hope to put on for the community.

The community COVID-19 vaccination clinic is scheduled for Tuesday, April 13 at the Rogers Convention Center from 10 AM to 6 PM. You can sign up by clicking on the registration link.