Public health experts work to overcome hesitance from minorities about COVID-19 vaccines

Public health experts work to build trust in the COVID-19 vaccine

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Public health experts are working to build confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine.

However, in the minority communities, they have some hurdles to overcome.

“The African-American community has not been treated fairly, historically, by the healthcare system,” said Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown, senior vice president and chief community wellness and health equity executive at Novant Health. “There has not been equity and so when you start wanting people to trust you, you have to have a relationship that speaks to trust.”

A study from the Kaiser Family Foundation found 35 percent of Black adults said they definitely or probably would not get vaccinated.

Dr. Garmon-Brown said that number is not a surprise. She points to the Tuskeegee Syphilis Study and the case of Henrietta Lacks.

She said it will take work to build trust.

“I think it’s going to take trusted people in their communities, for the African-American and Latino community I think clearly it is their faith connection,” she said. “I think getting faith leaders engaged is critical in this and then have doctors who really do believe that this vaccine is good.”

Dr. Garmon-Brown said she even had to overcome her own doubts about the vaccines.

“In the beginning, I have to admit I was a little skeptical,” she said. “I was thinking I might not be first in line. But I am going to be the first in line in reference to when it’s my time. When they call my name, I am going to say, ‘Yes.’ I think that we have to communicate, communicate, communicate and all of us that do you take it, we have to share our experience so we can share that trust.

She said it is especially important for the Black and Latino community to take the vaccine; as the COVID-19 data showed they are disproportionately killed or sickened by the virus.

“We can’t keep dying in the numbers that were dying in from this epidemic,” Dr. Garmon-Brown said.

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