BIPOC vaccination clinic to be held in Middlebury this Wednesday

MIDDLEBURY — Following the success of their vaccine clinics in Rutland and Bennington, the Rutland Area branch of the NAACP is partnering with the Vermont Department of Health and Middlebury College to offer a clinic for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Vermonters in Middlebury on this coming Wednesday, April 28, from 4-6 p.m. 

This clinic will be run by the Department of Health and open exclusively for BIPOC Vermonters and their households, including Middlebury College students, faculty, and staff. Earlier in the month, the group filled BIPOC vaccine clinics in Rutland and Bennington on two consecutive weekends.

Details on how to schedule a vaccination appointment are online at naacprutland.org/vax-midd.

Addison County has 2,142 BIPOC residents, according to the Department of Health.

These clinics seek to address the health disparities that BIPOC Vermonters face during the COVID-19 epidemic, including higher rates of both infection and complications from the virus, as well as lower rates of vaccination. Even as the state has opened vaccination to all Vermonters over age 16, BIPOC vaccination rates lag behind that of white Vermonters — in fact, only about 38% of Black Vermonters have been vaccinated, versus almost 54% of white Vermonters, according to the NAACP's Rutland area branch. 

In Addison County, only 49% of BIPOC residents have been vaccinated, compared to 57% of non-Hispanic whites, according to the Department of Health.

These statistics mirror those on a national scale, reflecting the impact of institutional racism in medicine, as well as occupations, transportation, economics, and other factors. The branch hopes that this clinic will reach people who have been hesitant or unable to receive a vaccine and help to close that gap in public health.

“I'm excited about Middlebury College offering a safe space for people of color to get the vaccine,” said Mia Schultz, president of the Rutland Area NAACP, which includes Addison, Bennington and Rutland counties. “This is a step toward acknowledgement and recognition for the need for health equity.”

Middlebury College President Laurie Patton welcomed the vaccination clinic in Middlebury.

“We are grateful to be able to help support the healthcare of BIPOC members of our community, including our own faculty, staff, and students,” Patton said. “It's important for the college to contribute to the vaccination effort in Addison County, which has provided us with so much support during the pandemic. We're glad to be able to offer our facilities for the event, and to contribute to health equity in our own communities.”

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Addison County Independent