OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Many in the Black community have expressed hesitancy to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Health officials say that while their doubt is justified, they want Black people to know the vaccine is safe.
"There’s a history of distrust of the government for good reasons. There’s the Tuskegee experiment, that's something that we have to face right upfront. That was a horrible national disgrace and the community remembers that. We have to know that it’s different hits time around and this is safe, it works," Douglas County Health Department Resource Specialist, Phil Rooney said.
Reverend Selwyn Bachus of the Salem Baptist Church in North Omaha said the Black community should trust this vaccine because Black people have been a part of the science behind it.
"African Americans, Black and brown folks...they’ve been a part of the process and I believe this is safe because we’ve been a part of that planning and the science and all of that," Reverend Bachus said.
Bachus is leading by example as he received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.
"We’ve been adversely affected by COVID-19 and I want the community to know it’s safe and we need to make sure we take care of ourselves. As African Americans, Black and brown people, we’ve been stricken with it at a higher rate even though our population is lower and so I just wanted to get out and be a leader in doing this," Reverend Bachus said.
While some may be hesitant in getting the vaccine because of a lack of trust, others find that the vaccine isn't accessible. A study done in Omaha found that Black people were getting tested for the coronavirus at a lower rate than other populations.
"Some of the participants mentioned that the COVID-19 test registration process was very complicated. If you recall initially, when the testing first began, you had to present symptoms in order to get the test and that was kind of confusing," Director of the Nebraska Center for Healthy Families, Doris Lassiter said.
She said the issues with testing are being reflected in vaccinations.
"I’m looking at the same issues that dealt with getting the COVID test that could prohibit people from getting the vaccines. If you don’t have access to the COVID test and you don’t have transportation to get a COVID test, you would perhaps have that same problem when you’re trying to get your COVID vaccine," Lassiter said.
Reverend Bachus said he's working on coordinating transportation to vaccine sites. The Douglas County Health Department is also working to take the vaccine to people rather than waiting for them to come to vaccine sites. Next week, the Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing and Allied Health will be taking their van into the north Omaha community to provide transport to those in need.