State addresses COVID vaccine concerns from Black Virginians

Posted at 7:14 AM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 07:14:13-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Hundreds of people gathered on a Zoom call Tuesday night to learn more about how Virginia health leaders will distribute the COVID-19 vaccine in the Black community.

“Most importantly tonight we want to hear from you because we need to hear your concerns," Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said.

Northam and leaders from the Virginia Department of Health spoke, fielded questions, and addressed concerns about the vaccine.

“So how are you going to identify who will indeed be brokers for underserved and marginalized communities, those communities that often don’t get this type of information? " an attendee named Keith said asked.

“If we have the highest probability of death, what is the state of Virginia doing to attack that statistic as it relates to getting the shots to the Black community," a retired veteran asked.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, African Americans make up 21 percent of COVID-19 cases in the state and 25 percent of the deaths.

"The fact that we have vaccines that are available right now is a public health miracle," Dr. Jeanin Guirdy said.

Guirdy, an assistant professor at VCU, is also on a team of professors who conducted a study with over 800 people.

She said only 30 percent of people from the study said they’d take the vaccine.

"The biggest concerns that people had, were that it was developed too quickly, that they were concerned it wasn’t going to be safe," she explained.

Healthcare workers in Virginia started receiving the state's first doses of coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday, kicking off what is likely to be a month's long process of inoculating people.

Right now, state health leaders said they’re working to keep the community informed and they are hoping social media and faith leaders will help make the biggest impact.