People of color and the vaccine

People of color and the vaccine

Moses Kuwema

Bishop Hezekiah Walker of Love Fellowship Tabernacle from Brooklyn says there is a lot of uncertainty and suspicions about the COVID-19 vaccine among the people of color.

And New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says there is honest pain and distrust on the vaccine among people of color because of what has been witnessed over the decades.

Meanwhile, New York City Commissioner of Health Dr Dave Chokshi says the city hopes to vaccinate every New Yorker by mid 2021.

Speaking virtually when he joined Mayor de Blasio for his daily briefings at City Hall Tuesday morning, Bishop Walker said people of color were skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccine and that more knowledge of the vaccine was needed. 
"I think people are skeptical because they just don't know. We need to be knowledgeable about this vaccine. 

"I have been talking to a few people about it, there are some people that are skeptical, some people are saying yes! let us go ahead and do it. But I think the hesitant ones are feeling that way because they just don't know," he said. 

"As people of color, we have been held back for many years because of lack of knowledge. Not just with the vaccines but with so many other things that come over with us being alive in America. We just miss great opportunities because we don't know. I think it is important for us to get the information out there into the communities.

"The faith leaders out there, we can come together and begin to speak about it over the pulpit and talk to our congregations about it," said Bishop Walker. 

Bishop Walker said he lost a few members of his congregation from COVID-19 and that many people of color were still hurting but that in order to move forward, they needed knowledge, wisdom and understanding of the vaccine.

"I just had a meeting last night with my congregation letting them know hey! I am for it, let us do it. I feel a type of way as well like them, I am a little uncertain as well but I believe in it. I think believing is the strength of us coming together and saying let us go ahead and do it. I am asking everyone, those of you that looking on now, I am not asking you to be the first in line but to get on the line. Let us all get together and take this vaccine so that we can move forward in our lives," concluded Bishop Walker.

Reverend Phil Graig of Greater Springfield Community Church in Queens echoed Bishop Walker's sentiments saying there was a lot of suspicions about the vaccine from people of color, which was understood.

"I think what our biggest goal is to make sure all New Yorkers who are vaccine recipients are informed. If we can get them informed then they will pass on the information to somebody else and I think that's our biggest challenge and opportunity," said Rev Graig.  

Bishop Raymond Rivera from the Latino Pastoral Action Center said there was suspicion about the vaccine in the communities of color because of such past practices like the sterlization of women in Puerto Rico.

"I think that we have to encourage our people to be vaccinated. So excited that there will hope because of this vaccination. Education campaign related to this vaccination campaign will be very important for the Spanish community to those that have cultural suspicions and those that have linguistic challenges," he said. 

"It is important to use all the means of information to get to our people. My expectation is that we move forward and serve communities of color and all communities that have been affected by this deadly virus and that we respond in the most accelerated manner," said Bishop Rivera.

And Mayor de Blasio said the city will work with faith leaders to ensure more people of color get vaccinated.

"There is honest pain with what we have seen over the decades that has bred that distrust from people of color. I hope if we can give people information, it's gonna allow us to move forward. We have got to get really good information out there. The day is coming when we will end this pandemic," said Mayor de Blasio.

Mayor de Blasio said the city would move quickly and aggressively and ensure most New Yorkers get vaccinated.

"When we get to the end of Spring, we would like to see everybody in New York City vaccinated. That's our goal. If every New Yorker gets vaccinated, that's one step closer to safety for all of us. 

"The more vaccination is voluntary the better. The focus is on educating people to buy into this vaccination. People just need answers to basic questions. The more answers, the more trust. We are going to put out information in all multiple languages with a heavy emphasis on Spanish as so many of our fellow New Yorkers speak Spanish as the primary language," he said.

And Mayor de Blasio said the COVID-19 indicators for the seven day average stood at 160 new hospitalizations, 2,813 new cases and a 5.51 percent positivity rate. 

"We are always happy to see a lower number. The hospitalization rate is not good at 2.89 %, we wanna be under 2% so that's the indicator of a bigger problem we are still facing. We gonna be fighting for weeks now. 

"The new cases on the seven day average is 2,813. That's a huge number. We wanna be under 550. It's gonna take weeks and weeks to get there but we are hopeful especially now that we have the vaccine," concluded Mayor de Blasio. 

Meanwhile, Dr Chokshi said the vaccine getting to the general public will depend on the supply of vaccines that would be available.

"The focus for this week and next week will be high risk health workers particularly those we are relying on as we expect more hospitalizations. Next week we will get to nursing homes and other health care facilities, both staff as well as residents in those facilities. Then we will expand to other healthcare workers and other frontline workers.

"This will take a few weeks for us to get through. We will start expanding the circle after that," he said. 

"As to when this will get to the general public, so much does depend on the supply of vaccines that will be available. We should have a better sense of that by the end of this month or next month. Based on that, we are hoping by mid 2021 we will be able to vaccinate everyone in New York," concluded Dr Chokshi.