As Louisiana opens COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to everyone over the age of 18, state data shows similar disparities in Lafayette Parish as seen elsewhere: the parish’s highest vaccination rates are within its wealthiest, Whitest neighborhoods.
But those familiar disparities do not show Lafayette’s complete picture.
Some areas with the lowest vaccination rates also fit that description, and, on the other hand, some of the highest rates are in areas that are poorer and less White than the parish as a whole.
The geographically large census tract covering the parish’s unincorporated western reaches has the second-lowest vaccine initiation rate among the 42 tracts. Yet it is one of only a dozen tracts that is more than 80% White, and its poverty rate is below the parishwide rate.
The highest vaccination rates are in affluent, racially homogenous neighborhoods along the Vermilion River, near Ochsner-Lafayette General Medical Center, the largest vaccine provider in the greater Acadiana region. Three contiguous census tracts in this area are the only ones with initiation rates above 30%, and they are also the three Whitest, averaging above 90%.
The hospital itself, meanwhile, is in a neighboring tract that is tied for the sixth-lowest initiation rate, at 12.8%. That tract includes the University of Louisiana, as well as the Freetown neighborhood, and has by far the highest rate of residents below the age of 25.
Ranking in the top third in both poverty and vaccination is the tract running along Cameron Street to the north, between University Avenue and Bertrand Drive. That tract is about two-thirds White, in line with the parish as whole.
One of the easternmost tracts, between Surrey Street and Carmel Drive, is among the 10 most vaccinated and among the 10 least White. Combined vaccination rates in the parish’s eight majority non-White tracts nearly match the parish rate, but six of those tracts rank in the bottom half for vaccination.
The tract with the lowest poverty rate, which is along Ambassador Caffery Parkway between Verot School Road and Youngsville Highway, is more than 80% White and has a vaccination rate mirroring the parish.
The two most impoverished tracts are also the least White, and their vaccination lags the parish by a few percentage points. Poverty in those tracts, along the University Avenue corridor south of Interstate 10, is more than 40%, or four times greater than the least vaccinated tract, just north of Scott.
Lafayette Parish as a whole is 18% vaccinated, as measured by initiation. Here are the most and least vaccinated census tracts:
1600: Johnston St./Vermilion River; Roselawn Blvd./Alonda Dr.
|31%||2002: Gloria Switch Rd./Cameron St.; SR 93/Coulee Mine||12%|
|1407: Vermilion River/Kalise Saloom Rd.; W. Pinhook Rd./Amb. Caffery Pkwy.||31%||1901: Fieldspan Rd./west and south parish boundaries||12%|
|1500: Johnston St./Vermilion River; S. College Rd./Roselawn Blvd.||30%||1903: Fieldspan Rd./Rue de Belier; Dulles Dr.-Landry Rd./Ridge Rd.||13%|
|1904: Dulles Dr./Ridge Rd.; Amb. Caffery Pkwy./Rue de Belier||26%||2101: West parish boundary/Dillon Rd./Ira St.||13%|
|0500: Congress St./Johnston St.; Bertrand Dr./W. University Ave.||25%||2001: West parish boundary/SR 93; Gloria Switch Rd./Cameron St.||13%|