TULSA, Okla — 2021 is the first year that Juneteenth is recognized as a national holiday and the celebrations have been going on most of the week.
Festival organizers used the Juneteenth celebrations as an opportunity to spread health awareness and resources to the North Tulsa community.
The fight to bridge the gap of health disparities among communities of color continues.
Blue Cross Blue Shield hosted the Black Health Counts event as part of the Juneteenth festival.
The family wellness event brought educational awareness and health services to the North Tulsa community.
Andrea Oguinn, a Oklahoma Caring Van specialist, tells 2 News, “today our vaccinations were free, so breaking down barriers of individuals who may not have insurance, that’s the Caring Van. You can come here and get your vaccines with us. We had Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer, so this was great opportunity for people to come out and get their COVID-19 shots.”
A recent study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that the death rate from COVID-19 would have been lower for black patients, if they had access to the same hospitals as their white peers.
Here in Tulsa, a community service council study on Tulsa equality indicators found there is about an 8.5 year difference in average life expectancy between North and South Tulsa residents.
The study also found that minorities had a higher cardiovascular disease mortality rate in Tulsa County.
One of the attendees of the event, Camillia Young-Walker, says “some of these families, they just don’t have the luxury of going into a doctor’s office and taking care of a really high bill and expenses are super high right now. No one has insurance, how else are we supposed to get care or get acknowledgment to what’s going on in our communities if there’s no healthcare there.”
Keisha Metoyer, one of the festival vendors, agrees and says that healthcare education and awareness are key in helping overcome the disproportionate statistics.
“Get focused on health issues, get vaccinated, ask questions.”, Metoyer says.
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