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Health Team

State leaders discuss racial disparity in COVID-19 vaccinations during 'fireside chat'

Posted February 2, 2021 11:29 p.m. EST
Updated February 2, 2021 11:59 p.m. EST

— Tuesday night kicked off the first of many conversations the state Department of Health and Human Services plans to have with input from community leaders about the coronavirus pandemic.

The goal of the “fireside chat” is to provide updates on the state's vaccination plan.

The virus and its impact on minorities was a major topic of discussion, especially when it comes to getting vaccines.

“We do not see that we are vaccinating our African-American community, our Hispanic community, our Native American community at the same rate we’re vaccinating our white community, and that means we have work to do," said Dr. Mandy Cohen, the secretary for DHHS.

Wilson County resident Sandra Lewis said she's ready to receive her doses.

“No, I’m not hesitant about taking the vaccine. I think everyone should take it," she explained.

Not everyone is as eager as Lewis.

Dr. DeLon Canterbury, who works on Durham’s COVID Minority Task Force, said many people he's talked to are still on the fence.

"Often I get [asked] is how how they regulating the temperatures of thes vaccines, especially when we're dealing with the rural clinics around NC," said Canterbury.

In an effort to help ease those fears, Rev. William Barber II suggests using places that people trust as vaccination sites – even offering to lend a hand.

"[We] want to commit here, planning for the doses [and] use churches to set up sites. I think we've ought to do this," said Barber.

Barber also asked the state if there’s a way to do an analysis focused on poverty and race to figure out how the system can work to deal with the disparities that exist while waiting for more vaccine doses to arrive.

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