San Diego Black Nurses working to vaccinate more community members

Posted at 5:24 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 20:24:48-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Getting as many people vaccinated for COVID-19 as possible has been a challenge, but especially so in the Black community.

Samantha Williams, with the San Diego Black Nurses Association, says barriers that exist in the community, from technology to trust, are affecting the rate of vaccinations in the community.

"There are a lot of barriers in terms of finances, transportation sometimes even literacy ... also things like working with technology which is required to make an appointment," said Williams. "I know a lot of people focus on the Tuskegee Experiment and Henrietta Lacks, however, historically there have been a number of medical injustices toward the African American community."

Which has translated into a major disparity in terms of vaccination rates.

"We know that white Americans are at about 50 percent, African Americans at just over 2 percent, and Hispanic community 16 percent. This is all per 1,000 residents," Williams said.

To change that, the Black Nurses Association is now partnering with local churches to host vaccination events.

Dr. Robert Gillespie is the medical director of the Black Nurses Association and a member of Bethel AME, one of the first church's to host an event.

"African American culture is often based in religion and being in churches and even those people who aren't religious have a trust and respect for the church," said Gillespie. "Just knowing someone who looks like you is providing the service does make a difference."

They're hoping it's the beginning of a partnership that creates real change.