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Racial barriers of vaccine: White Nebraskans getting vaccinated at much higher rates than minorities

Breaking down the racial barriers of the vaccine
Posted at 7:03 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 20:03:39-05

OMAHA, Neb. — The "Do Right, Right Now" campaign kicked off in November. It's a campaign with multiple community leaders involved and focuses on COVID-19 education, prevention and vaccinations.

Their second phase, which focuses on vaccines, has now officially launched. Their focus for this phase will be on vaccine education and resources. But a problem they're already noticing is racial disparities when it comes to vaccinations.

South Omaha, a predominately Latino community, was hit by the virus hard in 2020.

In Douglas County, COVID-19 cases among Hispanics represents 17% of total cases, whereas they are only 13.4% of the total county population. Chief Medical Officer of One World Community Health Center, Dr. Kris McVea, explained these disparities during a "Do Right, Right Now" virtual press briefing Wednesday.

"One of the challenges that we've seen thus far in the pandemic has been racial and ethnic disparities and access to COVID testing," she said.

It's these testing disparities that they don't want to see rolled over onto vaccinations. However, initial vaccine data is already showing disparities.

Out of the total Nebraska population that has received both doses so far, meaning they are completely vaccinated, only about 1.6% are African American and 2% are Latino.

C.T. (Carolyn) Williamson from North Omaha spoke about why the African American community specifically is weary of the vaccine.

"As people of color, we have that age old fear - are we going to be guinea pigs or what?" Williamson asked.

So what can be done to build trust during such a critical time? Williamson says representation matters.

"Messages are better served when they're coming from people who look like you," she said.

Tasha Conley is the director of nursing at One World. She wants to share her story of getting the vaccine to get the Latino and Black communities excited and interested.

"I've had the vaccine, I've been complete with my series for about two weeks. I had very little side effects, nothing more than a sore arm. Didn't grow any extra eyeballs or anything like that," she said.

The "Do Right, Right Now" campaign is focused on these kinds of education and representation efforts to get everyone, every race and every ethnicity, vaccinated to decrease the disparity of vaccinations.

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