HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) — Data from the city shows Black New Yorkers are hospitalized for COVID-19 more than any other group. Leaders know low vaccination rates are part of the issue, but they’re also working to combat an even bigger hurdle: racism in the health care system.

Harlem community advocate Tanesha Grant told PIX11 News she hasn’t seen a doctor in two years, after her primary care doctor in Queens retired. She said she hasn’t been able to find a Black doctor to see her, just one example of an imbalanced health care system.

“The people who treat us need to understand our issues,” Grant said.

Not having access to a primary care physician, paired with distrust in the COVID-19 vaccine, is leading Black New Yorkers to being hit harder by the pandemic.

“We are extremely concerned about the high rates of hospitalization for Black people in New York City,” Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Michelle Morse said.

The city’s health leaders said Black New Yorkers were hospitalized at higher rates than any other group in the city. Data showed Black and Hispanic essential workers are at a higher risk of exposure, especially when doing in-person work. Distrust in the medical system has also prevented people of color from seeking out vaccinations, something Morse said the city is working to address.

“We want everyone to get vaccinated,” she said. “We’ve put a lot of time and effort … toward making sure that the Black community has confidence that the vaccine is safe and effective.”