New Hanover County health leaders talk COVID-19 vaccine and minorities

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Throughout the pandemic, data has shown minority groups are at higher risk of complications from COVID-19. New Hanover County health leaders want to make sure they are protected when the vaccine becomes available to them.

County leaders say they want those groups to be informed and not afraid to get the shot.

“The mistrust needs to be dispelled,” said New Hanover County NAACP President Deborah Dicks Maxwell.

Maxwell says African Americans and other minority groups are sometimes skeptical when it comes to vaccines.

“The reason why is because of the medical abuse of African Americans,” she said. “Most people talk about Tuskegee, but there were other incidents also.”

That’s why New Hanover County health leaders held a community discussion Monday afternoon to dispel any fears or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Assistant county health director Carla Turner says there were no corners cut in its development.

“From decades of work on vaccines and working on new technologies and development, that is how we were able to get this vaccine put together as quickly as we did,” Turner said.

Toren Davis, medical director at Coastal Family Medicine, touted the fact that African Americans and Latinos participated in the vaccine trials. He also talked about higher risk factors for those groups.

“The death rates being 2.8 times higher for black patients and 2.8 times higher for Latino patients as well,” Davis said.

Those marginalized groups will be included in Phase 2 of the vaccine distribution. The county is working on a plan to roll that out, but when we enter Phase 2 is still unclear. We are currently under Phase 1A, where only frontline healthcare workers and those in long-term care facilities can get the vaccine.

“It’s really hard to put a timeline, you know at the end of February we’ll be at the end of 1A, at the end of March we’ll be into 2, that kind of stuff,” said System Director of Pharmacy Michael Melroy. “The way that we’re thinking about it is really dependent on the drug supply.”

Also during the discussion, speakers mentioned concerns about registering for the vaccine among undocumented immigrants.

You can watch the entire discussion here.

You can view more information from the county here.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, News, Top Stories

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