At the St. Teresa Catholic Church on the southwestern side of Little Rock, Oscar Martinez seized the opportunity on Saturday afternoon at a pop-up vaccine clinic in a gymnasium sponsored by the University of Arkansas Medical Service (UAMS) and the Mexican Consulate-Latin in the area. A direct attempt to reach out to the inhabitants.
“I visited the area last month and wanted to take this opportunity today,” Martinez told CNN.
State officials are pulling in to get people vaccinated. Arkansas is not only one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, but only about one-third of eligible people are fully vaccinated, as well as predominantly in Covid-19 cases. Backed by a new delta variant of the virus, it faces a nasty rise.
“There is no doubt about it. Our vaccination levels are not what we want,” Dr. Jose Romero, director of health at Arkansas, told CNN. “One-third of the population is fully immunized, but to control this, we need to get much higher levels.”
There are various reasons why experts say people in Arkansas are not vaccinated. They cite pregnant women who are concerned about the effects of the vaccine on themselves and their foetation, or those who want to see more FDA approval of the vaccine beyond their current emergency use authorization. But some believe in the conspiracy theory about vaccines, experts said.
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. is familiar with the skepticism. It was something he worked on himself.
“I’m a black man and a heartbreaking person,” Scott said. “When I think of Tuskegee Airmen, HeLa cells, and their disappointing history of the past, I’m also a person who has never been vaccinated against the flu.”
However, after losing his family to Covid, Scott said he realized it was even more important to encourage people to vaccinate.
“I spent a lot of time researching as a leader. I deepened my understanding, became a leader, and showed the residents of Little Rock that I shouldn’t do anything I didn’t do,” he said. I did. I’ll be happy. “
Experts say the message to ethnic minorities faces challenges. Latin Americans in the state often live in hard-to-reach rural areas, are concerned about lack of work, or say they are facing their own questions about vaccines.
Dr. Gloria Richard Davis, a UAMS doctor, is focusing her work on reaching out to these groups. It’s about making vaccines accessible within the community, she said.
“Many celebrities come out saying they’re vaccinated, the average person doesn’t hear them,” she said. “So we are trying to understand who our daily impact on our community is. Community health workers are part of it because they are alive and breathing.”
Aside from community members who help share accurate information, the state government is trying to do its part. Governor Asa Hutchinson is on a tour around Arkansas hosting the City Hall to ask questions about vaccines, and the State Health Department is a public service characterized by former vaccine skeptics talking about a change in their perspective. Announced the announcement.
The other is to allow people to take time off from work to get the vaccine. This is a major concern among the color community, Richard-Davis said.
“We work with our employers to ensure that they have time for vaccinations, or that they have some flexibility in the event of an adverse event that someone does not want to work the next day. There is sex, “said Richard-Davis.
Regarding FDA approval of the current vaccine beyond the emergency use authorization, Dr. Robert Hopkins, a UAMS physician who also chairs the National Vaccine Advisory Board, said, “I hope it will come quite soon.” .. .. “
“I know there was regular communication between the people of Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and the FDA,” he told CNN. “I think it helps at least part of our population who are hesitant to know that this vaccine is fully approved.”
Outreach seems to be working. In St. Teresa’s, Minerva Mendoza brought her 13-year-old daughter Mary Lara and vaccinated her.
“My position on the vaccine is that you can’t just sit down and wait for it to get sick and then regret not being vaccinated,” she told CNN. “For now, it’s about everyone marketing and overcoming the fear of vaccines so we can get out of this pandemic.”
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