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Efforts to boost trust in COVID-19 vaccine underway

Posted at 10:49 PM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 01:49:37-05

SAN DIEGO, CA (KGTV) -- With COVID-19 vaccines rolling out to the general public, many people are still hesitant to get a shot.

According to recent data from Kaiser Health News, Black Americans are getting the vaccines at a lower rate than White Americans since the rollout.

Ellen Nash, the Chair of the San Diego chapter of the Black American Political Association of California, or BAPAC SD, said she had heard directly from Black San Diegans who are unsure about the available vaccines.

“I thought it was important to bring this subject, this very important subject, to the Black community. I wanted to dispel the myths,” Nash said. “I wanted to encourage people to the vaccine.”

Some of the hesitations can be attributed to years of medical abuse and broken trust in the system, especially after the decades-long Tuskegee Syphilis study on Black men.

On Saturday, Nash brought together local Black medical professionals and community members for a Facebook Live forum, complete with a Q & A session.

“I needed to bring the convincing folks on the line, who are our Black medical professionals who have already taken the vaccine. Dr. Hood, Dr. Akilah Weber, Dr. Afflalo, and also Dr. Jerome Robinson,” said Nash.

The doctors gave important information about the currently available vaccines and data; they answered questions and acknowledged the pain that led to mistrust.

“There certainly is a history well recorded in the United States of medical experiments on African Americans,” said Dr. Jerome Robinson during the Facebook Live. “I think that in this case, we have to look beyond that, in that this vaccine is going to save a number of people, and it may be somebody close to you.”

Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber, who has participated in similar discussions before, also weighed in during the livestream.

“We still have folks that are still hesitant, and so hopefully we’ll all keep pushing at every place that we can and make sure that people know that they can get it and that they should get it,” said Weber.

Nash said the response at the end of the forum was exactly what she hoped for, more people now confident from the information directly from Black medical professionals.

“In the spirit of Martin Luther King, in the spirit of his preaching and messaging on freedom, this is our time where we’re not at the back of the line, we’re not at the back of the bus. We’re in front,” she said on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.