Biden’s visit to Raleigh targets area with abnormally low vaccination rate

State News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The area in Raleigh where President Joe Biden is speaking Thursday to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations has an abnormally low vaccination rate and a high social vulnerability to the virus.

That low vaccine uptake rate in a North Raleigh census tract overwhelmingly populated by minorities is an outlier in one of North Carolina’s top-performing counties where leaders say they’re on track to meet Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4.

The president and Gov. Roy Cooper will continue their vaccination push at an event at the Green Road Community Center.

“I think the President is going to talk about the progress that we have made … and the importance of the vaccines, especially with this Delta variant,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary for health in the Biden Administration.

The community center sits in the middle of a tract — bordered by Millbrook Road to the north, New Hope Church Road to the south and Capital Boulevard to the east — that’s marked by the undesirable combination of high social vulnerability and a low vaccination rate.

That’s according to a mapping tool from the state Department of Health and Human Services that points out potential trouble spots across the state.

The map shows that particular tract as one of nine across the county that’s colored red — signifying the highest level of social vulnerability.

It also shows the tract had just 36.5 percent of its eligible population — the 4,949 people living there who are 12 and older — received shots as of June 1, the most recent data available.

According to the map, only three other census tracts in Wake County had lower rates.

That county has been one of the better-performing counties in the state, with 57 percent of all people having received at least one dose as of Thursday.

Data from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council in 2020, the most recent data available, show minorities make up 84.5 percent of the people who live there. It’s 43 percent Black and 35 percent Hispanic, according to FFIEC data.

A study this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found Black people among the groups with the lowest reported vaccination coverage and intent to get vaccinated.

Across the state, only one-third of Black people and 35 percent of Latinos have received at least one dose, and Dr. David Weber, an infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, says those minorities — along with the youngest adults, those between the ages of 18 and 24 — have displayed higher levels of vaccine hesitancy for various reasons.

“They all interplay together,” he said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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