Local, state leaders working to get COVID-19 vaccine to members of Black community

Local, state leaders working to get COVID-19 vaccine to members of Black community

PITTSBURGH — Health leaders in Pennsylvania revised the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans Tuesday, saying anyone older than 65 and anyone between ages 16 and 64 with serious health conditions can now get it. Local agencies, however, are pushing back, saying they don’t have the supply of vaccines to be able to get it to more people.

State and local leaders are also dealing with another issue: getting the vaccine to the Black community.

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“The Black community has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. We have higher rates of infection, higher rates of death, higher rates of severity,” Rev. Ricky Burgess said.

Burgess said friends and family members have come down with the virus, but when he talks to people about getting the vaccine, he hears people saying no all the time.

“Because of infamous studies done by major research hospital institutions on Black people. The Tuskegee experiment. There is a distrust that African Americans have,” he said.

Burgess said he plans to get the shot and post video of it on social media to encourage others in the community.

“The fears are pretty much that it came out too soon. It kind of was rushed,” Kenneth Huston, president of the Pennsylvania NAACP said.

There’s now a major push to ease those fears through facts. The NAACP plans to launch a series about the vaccine, hoping the Black community will get it.

“No corners were cut. All the safety measures were followed,” chief medical officer for Primary Care Health Services Dr. Jerome Gloster said.

Gloster said his team’s goal is to help underserved communities. He said he has the utmost trust in the science behind the vaccine and urges others to roll up their sleeve.

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