SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – There are major concerns over the perception of the COVID-19 vaccine in minority communities.
A virtual panel discussion on the subject was held today.
The consensus was that there is a lack of trust in the health care system in Black and brown communities.
“The world is watching. Everybody is kind of waking up and now the health establishment, the community leaders, we’re all taking responsibility to fix these health care disparities and to me, rolling out COVID 19 and making sure our communities of color have access is the opportunity to right some wrongs,” said TaLawanda Bragg, MD with Spectrum Health.
Those who are on the verge of bringing vaccination clinics to minority neighborhoods in Benton Harbor and Grand Rapids seemed to realize how quickly things could go south.
“How do we keep from our community becoming like what we see happening in Florida where we see senior adults who are sitting in their cars for hours, or people camping out overnight,” asked Rev. Howard Earle with New Baptist Church in Grand Rapids.
Spectrum Health sponsored a virtual panel discussion today knowing full well not everyone will be eager to roll up their sleeves.
“This community, I like to say, was already in a public health crisis long before COVID showed up,” stated Rev. Jaime Cervantes with First Church of God in Benton Townships. “There are myths, and I think the one that I’ve heard over and over is this idea that the vaccine was developed too quickly.”
They spoke of concerns on the street that people with underlying conditions like diabetes and hypertension should avoid the vaccine and that minority communities may not have the technological ability to schedule appointment online.
“For instance, my staff got on the phone the other day and called 50 people and got them registered,” said Lynn Toddman, PhD with Spectrum Health Lakeland. “We had their phone numbers because these individuals preferred a phone so we just set up a call bank.”
Today’s call to the community at large was to find a way to introduce the vaccine in a way that restores trust in the health care system.
“It’s about all of us working together to make sure everybody is touched positively by this medical advancement,” offered Dr. TaLwanda Bragg.
One health care professional was quick to point out that if there was any reason to believe the vaccine might not be safe, there’s no way health care professionals would have been the first in line to receive it.
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