OMAHA, Neb. — There are longstanding healthcare disparities when it comes to marginalized communities. COVID-19 vaccination efforts are no exception.
An Omaha-based, minority-owned company is involved with clinical trials for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and hopes their participation will build trust with minority communities. Many marginalized groups are lagging behind when it comes to COVID vaccination rates.
Minorities have higher rates of infection, hospitalization and death compared to white Americans, according to the CDC.
Trust is a major factor for the minority community.
"In the past, there was a lot of mistrust and people felt the government wasn't upfront with what they were giving them. But now, in 2021 as we develop these vaccines, you will sign a document called the informed consent document. It tells you everything they know about the vaccine," said Seneca Harrison, CEO, Quality Clinical Research.
Quality clinical research was involved in adult test trials for Moderna and Pfizer and is now a part of the Moderna trial for kids aged six months to 12 years old.
"I was nervous at first, but you have to believe in science, you have to use your noggin. It is just who you are as a person and who you will be depends on this because if you are not getting that shot it could have serious effects. New variants could pop up, new people getting sick and things could go terribly wrong, you just have to get it," said 10-year-old Michael Ortega, Moderna clinical trial participant.
The trial consists of eight visits and the kids are monitored for an entire year.
"I've been told hearing my voice, hearing me talk about the vaccine and how it is made gives ease to some people," continued Harrison.
Giving a community hope and starting the rebuilding of trust.
Harrison added, "Also, you can drop out at any time you participate in a clinical trial. Back then, once you were in, you were in. Everyone in our office is fully vaccinated, it was a requirement that we made. If we are going to develop it, we should stand by it and everyone was willing to get vaccinated."
"It feels amazing, you feel like you mean a lot. You don't have to lift a finger to help a whole bunch of people. You simply get the shot and who knows, maybe you just saved a million people," continued Ortega.
Kids made 'thank you' cards and drew photos thanking the doctors for allowing them to get back to school.