Health experts pushing vaccine awareness to underserved communities

Health experts pushing vaccine awareness to underserved communities
(Source: WVUE)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - With three working vaccines now in circulation and cases down, many states are easing up on COVID restrictions, and some like Texas and Mississippi are even doing away with mask mandates.

“Now is the time to exercise personal responsibility,” said health educator Dr. Eric Griggs. “The reality is we can’t let our guard down. There are currently 20,000 variants of the virus that are out there, about seven of which we’re concerned about.”

Griggs says continuing to wear your mask and staying socially distant is a must, even if there’s no law saying you have to.

And it’s also time for everyone to start seeking out a vaccine or getting on a waiting list if you’re not yet eligible.

“If you’re walking into a pharmacy, there’s no harm in asking ‘Hey, do ya’ll do vaccine’s here? oh great what’s the process?’ and have someone actually walk you through it,” said Griggs.

Dr. James Hildreth is an immunologist and was recently appointed to President Biden’s COVID-19 health equity task force.

“We need to be vaccinated because, especially for minority communities, with such a high burden of co-morbid conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, we’re much more likely to get really sick and die,” said Hildreth.

There’s recently ben a big push to get vaccines to those in rural communities and those who are underserved.

Hildreth recently spoke at a forum in Tuskegee, Alabama, the site of the now infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

He says that caused a entire generation to mistrust the medical community, and they are working hard to regain that trust.

“In my opinion, it goes all the way back to 1619 when we first set foot on this on this continent, when black bodies were used in experiments and atrocity. So the basis for the misgivings is understood, accepted and acknowledged. But things are different now. The vaccine development process involved persons of color at every step.”

Griggs says the bottom line is to get your shot, and if you need help finding one, you won’t have to look far.

“There are non-traditional things happening like town halls,” said Griggs.

“I’m on several panels and we’ll talk to anyone about vaccine education.”

“Asking at you’re grocery store, your churches and your hospitals. There are a lot of things happening out there we just have to take advantage of them.”

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