COVID-19 vaccinations for minorities still lagging in Onondaga County

Feb 5, 2021

More than 52,000 Onondaga County residents have received a coronavirus vaccine so far. Percentage-wise, that is far above the state average. But the latest state numbers also show who isn’t getting vaccinated.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said Thursday that 11.4% of eligible adults in the county have received the vaccine. If you add in nursing home residents, that number is more like 15%, which McMahon says is pretty good.

“The state average is 7.56%. So we’re much better than the state average,” McMahon said. “And in discussions, this wasn’t confirmed, but in my discussions it was referenced we may be doing the best in the large counties when it comes to percentages.”

McMahon said numbers also show percentages of who’s getting vaccinated at the county immunization clinic. And there’s evidence there of racial inequality. Only 7% are African American, 2% are Asian, and 1% other races, which includes Latino. Those are all below the percentage of people of those races that live in the county.

McMahon expects these numbers to be consistent at clinics being run at the New York State Fair and pharmacies. He said county numbers would have been worse if not for some recent pop-up clinics focusing on African American and New American communities. He expects more of those kinds of clinics in the future.

“We’re going to need to be very intentional to make sure communities get an opportunity,” he said. “What we’re going to run into is distrust in the process. And that’s where education and the Health Equity Task Force is going to have to really push that process.”

The state figures also show only 21% of residents in the city of Syracuse are getting vaccinated, and McMahon said that number should be in the neighborhood of 30%.  McMahon said the county will continue delving into the figures, looking for areas that are underrepresented, including some rural communities.