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Local efforts to vaccinate minorities showing success



AUGUSTA, Ga. – Since January, local health care providers in the CSRA have partnered with outside organizations to form several pop up vaccine clinics in minority communities. It’s all in an effort to reach the most hesitant communities.

It started at a slow pace, but more and more people are rolling up their sleeves to get vaccinated — including minorities.

“We have a lot of work to do before we mitigate that hesitancy– before we break down those barriers” said Dr. Justin Moore, an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Augusta University.

100 Black Men of Augusta is just one local organization helping reach different communities and reduce vaccine hesitancy.

“We still see a low uptake, we see some hesitancy, within certain communities specifically, Black individuals under the age of 30“ said Moore.

The organization doesn’t do vaccinations themselves, but they’ve helped bring free testing to over 250 people and they also offer vaccine education to anyone who asks.

“We’re willing to sit here and help you register for the vaccine if that’s something that we need to do” said Moore.

The organization’s COVID Community Tour is assisted by Medical College of Georgia student volunteers.

“By meeting people where they are in an open and judgment-free environment, I think is one of the best ways to make connections and reduce any hesitancy there is about this” said first year medical student Rishab Chawla.

The the pop-up clinics may be working.

Georgia Department of Public Health data shows Richmond County, is one of the Georgia counties succeeding in vaccinating minorities. Specifically, Black populations.

In the Richmond County, Black people have received the highest percentage of vaccine doses at 44.5% compared to white people at 41%. Black people make up 55% of Richmond county’s population.

In Jefferson, Taliaferro and Warren counties, Black people are vaccinated at a higher percentage too.

“I think definitely is a huge role” said Moore. “Because a big part of what we’re doing is trying to meet people where they are, to try to break down as many barriers as possible.”

But Moore also says the news of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause, has added more hesitancy, which groups like his will need to work to overcome.

“The more people will uptake the vaccine, the more people see someone within their family or someone that looks like them that’s had it in there OK, you’re going to see more people say ‘okay, I’m fine with it’ and I think with time, we’re gonna see that” he said.

Today was the last scheduled stop on 100 Black Men of Augusta’s COVID Tour, but they will continue working in the community and assisting healthcare partners with outreach and vaccinations.