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Vaccine hesitancy falls back to distrust in how its presented to different populations

African Americans and Rural America hesitant to get COVID-19 vaccine
Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 7:15 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Public health officials say some hesitancy in getting the COVID-19 vaccine is good.

”Some vaccine hesitancy is really common sense and really smart you know when there’s a new vaccine and new disease and they don’t know a lot of about it and they’re hesitant about all the right reasons,” said Dr. Scott Harris, chief health officer Alabama Dept. of Health.

In Tuskegee, Alabama a historic study on syphilis’ impact on the African American population was performed, leaving many who participated sick, after health workers failed to provide adequate care to those impacted.

Because of the distrust formed around the study, African Americans, are not getting COVID-19 vaccines at higher rates than others.

”A great deal of uncertainty, not just about the vaccine but about the coronavirus its self,” said Tuskegee Mayor, Tony Haygood.

Americans living in rural settings are showing hesitancy to get the vaccine as well.

Because of this, many are coming together to get to the root of the distrust, in order to find a solution.

”But it was terrible to use warp speed and terminology like that. Lead us to believe that maybe you did some shortcuts in all of that. I honestly believe we need to be honest with people,” said Omar Neal a former Tuskegee Mayor.

Neal has family members who were a part of the syphilis study and got the COVID-19 vaccine himself.

”I took the vaccine after a lot of study and communication with people in the industry. It’s based on trust and I have to trust them and once they convinced me, I took it,” said Neal.

The belief is that trust and communication in and with health officials will help dispel rumors and sow trust in those who don’t believe it’s safe.

”People have to inform themselves and make that individual decision for themselves and their family,” said Dr. Clayton Yates a Tuskegee University professor.

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