PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been exactly nine months since the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine was administered in Norfolk, and the city still has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the region, according to data presented by the Virginia Department of Health.
As of Wednesday night, the state’s coronavirus dashboard reported 38% of the population is fully vaccinated, the lowest rate in Hampton Roads. Portsmouth isn’t too far behind with 40% vaccinated.
In northeast North Carolina, four counties have yet to reach the 40% threshold. Those counties are Gates (34%), Perquimans (39%), Hertford (39%) and Currituck (36%).
Only Dare County in North Carolina has a greater vaccination rate than the overall state. There 65% of the population has full protection, compared to 52% statewide.
In Virginia, 58% of the population is fully vaccinated. In Hampton Roads, only James City County beats the state, with 59% of the population vaccinated. The Eastern Shore also has high vaccination numbers.
However, the numbers could be higher than actually reported in communities with a heavy military presence.
Doses administered by the federal government are not listed in local numbers. Both Norfolk and Portsmouth have large military populations.
Still, the push to get more shots in arms continues in cities like Norfolk.
The city health department continues to try and reach people where they are. Saturday from 1-4 p.m. vaccines will be administered as part of a family event at Gethsemane Community Fellowship Baptist Church.
“Nearly every Sunday, we mention it and strongly encourage people to get the vaccine,” said Dr. Kirk Houston, pastor of the church and former Norfolk School Board chair.
Statewide vaccination rates for Black Virginians continue to lag compared to other ethnic groups.
“I think that often times, people in low economic status, or the younger generation has been showing it, the young adults are very very skeptical about it. Some based on history and others based on propaganda,” Houston said.
He feels the church is slowly but surely making progress.
“People are far more trusting of the church and then the medical community and others outside the community,” Houston said.