By Zach Solon | April 1, 2021 at 9:42 PM EDT – Updated April 1 at 11:39 PM
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – New Hanover County officials continue their push to get people in minority communities vaccinated.
Since the vaccine was first made available to the public, some people have been hesitant to take it, including those in minority groups. The county’s Chief Diversity and Equity Officer says after she first noticed a low turnout in vaccine reception by marginalized communities, she jumped in to help educate them.
“We did what we realized works best and that’s grassroots efforts,” says Thompson. “Going back to many of the churches in our community, a lot of our community leaders — they were able to do a lot of outreach specifically in our communities.”
These efforts include Zoom meetings with local leaders, health experts, and members of the community, as well as vaccine clinics in areas with high-minority populations.
“What we are trying to do now is trying to use every vehicle, every communications tool, every community leader to spread the word and to help get the word out that the vaccine is safe,” says Thompson.
New Hanover County’s Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Diana Vetter Craft says she has noticed a change in the way the vaccine has been viewed by residents since it was first made available to the public.
“I think at the very beginning there were a lot of discussions in public health — talking about maybe hesitancy — because it was at warp speed,” says Craft. “We do hear that, but we at least are seeing, as soon as we open appointments, they are filling up pretty quickly.”
According to the state health department, African Americans represent just over 17 percent of North Carolinians vaccinated so far despite making up about 23 percent of the state’s total population.
Thompson says she and her department will continue their efforts to spread the word to minority communities about taking the vaccine with the help of community leaders and those who have already been inoculated.
“Help educate individuals in our communities about myths, about problems, about concerns,” says Thompson. “And let people ask very candid questions, and then we simply ask people to use word-of-mouth. If you got a shot tell somebody else to get the shot.”
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