Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report highlighting how North Carolina’s focus on equity in administering vaccines increased COVID-19 vaccination rates in Black and Hispanic communities.

“From the start, North Carolina has focused on getting shots into arms in a way that’s fast and fair and I applaud state health officials for the progress we’ve made,” Governor Roy Cooper said. “By building our own system and making equity a critical part of our vaccine distribution plan, we’ve been able to better protect our historically underserved communities from this virus.”

“We’ve built equity into every aspect of our vaccine distribution,” said Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “Our commitment to equitable vaccine distribution is one piece of our continued work to address and dismantle systemic and structural barriers to health equity.”

Between December 2020 and April 2021, the proportion of vaccines being distributed to Black North Carolinians increased from 9% to 19% and the proportion going to Hispanic North Carolinians increased from 4% to 10%. These increases closed the vaccination gap for Hispanic people, who make up 8% of the state’s population, and narrowed the gap for Black people, who make up 22% of the state’s population.

The report highlights several strategies that North Carolina has been using, including:

Increasing vaccine supply allotments for counties with larger populations from historically marginalized communities, particularly when the state was focused on vaccinating people 65 and older.

Outlining clear expectations that vaccine providers should be vaccinating historically marginalized populations at least proportionate to their representation in their local community.

Promoting partnerships between vaccination providers and community- and faith-based organizations, with focused communication activities and toolkits to support access to vaccination for Black and Hispanic people.

Additional information about the state’s strategies and metrics can be found in the Promoting COVID-19 Vaccine Equity in North Carolina report from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ena Sellers may be reached at esellers@ncweeklies.com