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State leaders address vaccine concerns in African American community

Posted at 11:42 PM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 23:42:23-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Hundreds gathered on a zoom call Tuesday night, to learn more about how Virginia health leaders are preparing to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine in the African American community.

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

Governor Ralph Northam and leaders from the Virginia Department of Health spoke at the forum. They heard firsthand the questions and concerns attendees had 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," Keith, an attendee said,.

“If we have the highest probability of death, what is the state of Virgina doing to attack that statistics as it relates to getting the shots to the black community," a retired veteran said.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, African Americans make up 21 percent of Covid cases in the state and 25 percent of the deaths. (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/coronavirus/covid-19-in-virginia-demographics/)

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

Dr. Jeanin Guirdy is an assistant professor at VCU. She 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 say 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," Dr. Guirdy said.

(https://www.wtvr.com/news/coronavirus/virginias-healthcare-workers-start-receiving-covid-19-vaccinations) Healthcare workers in Virginia started receiving the state's first doses of a coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday, kicking off what is likely to be a month's long process of inoculating people from the potentially deadly disease.

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.

“We believe that faith leaders are a trusted messenger. It's not always about the message but the messenger.”