‘I’m a prime example,’ Black doctor and pastor work to ease vaccine concerns in minority communities

Arkansas News

EL DORADO, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) 4/12/21 — People of color are still hesitant to get the shot but local leaders are trying to ease some of those concerns and Governor Hutchinson is hoping local pharmacies will try to target these minority populations.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, the state’s population consists of 15.3 percent of African Americans and of that only 10 percent are fully vaccinated.

Many people in the community voiced their concerns to KTVE/KARD, attributing the following reasons to their overall hesitancy in getting the vaccine:

  • “I don’t know what’s in the shot.”
  • “The virus will be the thing of the past in the next two months.”
  • “I’ve never received any shots, not even the flu.”
  • “I’ve been out partying since the pandemic and haven’t caught the virus. I think I’ll still be good now.”

Response to hesitancy related to history

Dr. Ezinne Nwude, owner of Gold Cross Urgent Care in El Dorado, says she receives numerous concerns from African Americans who historical inequity in healthcare dating back centuries.

Though she understands the reluctance, as a black woman herself, she’s done her research and believes this vaccine was not produced to harm any specific person but rather to save lives.

She and her husband received the vaccine in December at the Medical Center of South Arkansas.

“I will not encourage the vaccine if I know it will hurt you. I’m a prime example,” Dr. Nwude said.
“My encouragement to my people is that we were there when this vaccine was produced.”

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a black female scientist, was at the forefront of the Moderna vaccine development, which should help ease some of those worries felt by many people of color.

“This time around we had people like you and I that were at the table making decisions about the productions of the vaccine. We actually had a scientist behind the microscopes actually producing these vaccines.”

Response to hesitancy related to vaccine production & the number of companies producing vaccines

Since December, the FDA has approved three vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson&Johnson. Some question why there are three different companies who are producing the vaccines.

“Let’s take for example a disease like high blood pressure. There’s more than one drug to treat high blood pressure. Even with a particular drug, there is a class and most of them act the same way. The science behind the Pfizer and Moderna vaccination is exactly the same but it’s going to be impossible to give the job of producing the vaccine that’s enough for the entire country to just one company. So, you would have another company to help,” she said. “All these vaccines do one thing. They are not competing against each other.”

“It wasn’t produced so fast that it would be detrimental to people. It wasn’t produced so fast that we didn’t get a lot of research information from the people that got vaccinated during the research trials,” Dr. Nwude said.

Response to hesitancy related to have never taken a flu shot or have never tested positive for Covid-19

“This is a new virus. There is a chance that this virus will be here. Covid-19 virus infects at a greater rate. The symptoms it causes is so much worse. Even though you have gotten away all of these years without getting the influenza virus and you’ve not gotten sick, this virus is a very dangerous virus. We have seen it take lives in a short period of time,” Dr. Nwude said.

Local pastor advocates for the vaccine

Pastor Eugene Farley is another voice in the African American community who has been trying to encourage his congregants to get the vaccine.

Fortunately, he says his church has fared well during the pandemic but he’s seen friends in the ministry who have died from complications from the coronavirus. That’s why he’s making sure people are educated about the vaccines.

“It’s just a dangerous game as far as I’m concerned to be out here unprotected while all of this is going on,” he said. “If you’re just taking a chance and say I’ll be alright, well if you contract the virus do you think you’re chances are better with protection or without protection? I think that’s the question you need to answer for yourself, neighbors, significant others and everybody.”

Though, he believes it’s going to take more than just creating trust within the black community to get them to get the shot. Pharmacists and local hospitals who are eligible to give the vaccine should be reaching specifically into these neighborhoods to help fill the gaps.

“What’s wrong with meeting the needs of African Americans and meeting them where they are since we want to talk about they are the group that don’t want to participate,” Pastor Farley said.

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