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Reaching to all communities for vaccine distribution

Minority groups get attention
Published: Jan. 8, 2021 at 12:59 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - As officials across the United States race to speed up a slower-than-projected vaccine rollout, reaching hard-hit minority communities is as critical as ever.

This week, the first nurse in the U.S. to receive a Pfizer injection, received her second dose.

“I feel I’ve completed the marathon,” said nurse Sandra Lindsay.

As states and medical centers roll out vaccines, many are highlighting recipients from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds - like Lindsay - to build trust.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams received his on live TV.

“I could not be more pleased or feel more called on to receive this vaccine that so many people of color had a hand in developing and testing and has the potential to correct at least some of the health disparities this pandemic has unveiled,” said Adams.

That includes a disproportionate impact on communities of color.

But health experts worry about vaccine hesitancy, especially in Black communities, where a history of medical testing without consent and inadequate access to health care has built distrust.

A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds only 20-percent of Black Americans and 26-percent of Hispanic Americans said they’d get a vaccine “as soon as possible.”

“These are unprecedented times and it’s going to involve coalition building and speaking to communities of color to stamp out COVID-19,” said Dr. Leon McDougle, the president of the National Medical Association.

In Boston, focus groups are hearing and responding to community concerns.

“We want to let them know these are new times,” said Dr. Stephen Wright, medical director from the Whittier Street Health Center. “This is a new medication.”

In Washington D.C., outreach groups have gone door-to-door and New York’s governor is vowing equitable vaccine distribution.

“I will not take the vaccine until the vaccine is available for my group in Black, Hispanic and poor communities around the state,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-New York).

These are all pushes to build confidence and protect lives.

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