Originally published by The Land on Jan. 8. Republished with permission.
Cuyahoga County’s vaccination rates range from 90% in wealthier suburban areas to 30% in low-income Cleveland communities, aligning with the region’s health disparities along racial and socioeconomic lines, according to Cuyahoga County Board of Health
While suburban zip codes such as 44040, which contains Gates Mills, had vaccination rates soaring to 89.76%, Cleveland’s Central neighborhood was at 31.89%, illuminating vaccine inequities that echo other health and socioeconomic
Note: Hover mouse over regions on the map to see zip codes, neighborhoods and vaccination rates.
This map was created from CCBH data from Dec. 16, that shows vaccination levels in each zip code in the county.
“There's still a big fear about the vaccine, because it's new, among some populations,” says Cuyahoga County Health commissioner Terry Allan. “We want to respect that, but also…if we want to get to the end of this pandemic, we want to make sure that everyone rolls up their sleeves and gets vaccinated.”
The most vaccinated zip code was 44040, which has a median household income of $157,132 and contains Gates Mills and part of Mayfield on the far east side of the county. Other highly vaccinated communities include Chagrin Falls, Orange and Solon on the east side, and Bay Village, Rocky River and Westlake on the west side, all of which have vaccination rates well above 80%. These communities are generally more than 90% white, according to recent US Census data.
The least vaccinated zip code was 44104, which had a median household of $16,999 and contains the predominantly Black neighborhoods of Buckeye-Woodhill and parts of Kinsman, Central, Fairfax and Union-Miles Park. Other neighborhoods with low vaccination rates are 44105, which includes Slavic Village (38.29%); 44103, which includes St. Clair Superior (43.78%); 44108, which includes Glenville (42.96%); and 44110, which includes Collinwood (39.08%).
In those communities, Allan says CCBH has been working to break down barriers some face to get vaccinated, like lack of access to nearby vaccination clinics and transportation.
“Particularly, we want to make sure that we continue to offer locations for the African American community or the Hispanic-Latinx community throughout Cuyahoga County to be able to get a vaccine close to home,” he says. “We use [the zip code vaccination data] to drive the locations of those clinics and make sure they're in neighborhoods, they’re in churches and community centers.”
On the west side, the zip code 44102, which includes Detroit Shoreway, Edgewater, and Cudell, had a 48.31% vaccination rate, while the zip code 44109, which contains parts of Tremont, Clark-Fulton, Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn, had a vaccination rate of 50.77%. Other west side areas trended higher, such as 44135, which includes Bellaire-Puritas and part of Kamms Corners and had a vaccination rate of 56.35%.
The Cleveland Department of Public Health
, city council president Blaine Griffin and the chair of council’s health and human services committee Kevin Conwell did not respond to interview requests in time for this article’s publication.
Countywide, the vaccination rate is around 60% right now. In Cleveland, the overall vaccination rate is around 45%, according to the Cleveland Department of Public Health. The number of county residents getting the first dose of the vaccine has been steadily decreasing, according to the CCBH, and just 25% of the county’s population has gotten a booster, or a third dose of the vaccine.
Comparing this data to older vaccination data, dated April 28, 2021, from University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic, shows that vaccine inequities have been a persistent issue in the county. Despite roughly doubling vaccination rates in the least-vaccinated communities, in the most-vaccinated neighborhoods, larger overall shares of the populations got the jab in the months since vaccination rates began to lag
across the state at the end of April.
From April to December, the vaccination rate increased from 15.6% to 30.89% in 44104 (Buckeye-Woodhill, Kinsman and Central); from 19.9% to 38.29% in 44105 (the area around Broadway-Slavic Village); and from 20.3% to 39.08% in 44110 (North Shore Collinwood and Collinwood-Nottingham).
However, the vaccination rate increased from 66.8% to 89.76% in 44040 (Gates Mills and part of Mayfield); and from 62.2% to 85.34% in 44122 (the area around Beachwood).
There have been several efforts to build trust in the vaccine in many of the least-vaccinated neighborhoods, one of which recruited grassroots community advocates
to provide culturally relevant information about the vaccine to their neighbors through raw conversations, billboards and TV commercials. That initiative, called the Guardians of Cleveland, was initiated because of prevalent vaccine hesitancy and resistance in marginalized communities in Cleveland.
Institutional racism has contributed to medical mistrust in communities of color, according to the CDC. That mistrust has driven some in Cleveland’s Black community to choose not to vaccinate, according to the community advocates involved in the guardians campaign.
But Carrie Reeves, one of the guardians active in the faith community in Central and Fairfax, says she ran into more people who simply lacked access to information about the vaccine and where it was available. She has answered questions for her neighbors and walked friends through vaccine scheduling, which can be difficult for people without access to the internet, she said.
“It's not misinformation,” she says. “It’s no information.”