With COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, doctors begin outreach to Black communities


COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The coronavirus continues to impact communities of color at a higher rate, but recent surveys have found those same communities are also less likely to trust and take a vaccine.

Last year, only 2.5 percent of our country’s doctors were Black, meaning many people of color never see a doctor that looks like them, if they see a doctor at all.

“We have the Black community’s back,” said Dr. Leon McDougle, a message he is trying to spread as far as he can.

In addition to teaching and working at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, McDougle is president of the National Medical Association and recently created a group to reach the Black community about the vaccine.

“We see this as critical,” McDougle said. “We see ourselves as trusted messengers in the black community.”

That trust is something missing when it comes to the Black community and critical care.

A recent study found that only 32 percent of Black adults said they will definitely or probably take a COVID-19 vaccine, which means more than 20 million African Americans are a “maybe,” at best.

The distrust is even causing some debates between spouses.

“She says she wants to wait to see the results of the vaccine first,” said Columbus resident Mark Dodley. “I would be willing to be one of the first in line.”

Even though it may be months before the general public can get the COVID-19 vaccine, MdDougle said one way to create trust is to create access.

“Having access to vaccines within walking distance of public transportation, that’s a fourth of a mile or a five-minute walk,” McDougle said. “Those types of things that we can do to lower barriers to access.”

While the details are still being finalized, in the coming weeks, public health agencies should begin partnering with community groups and even churches to start communicating the importance of getting vaccinated with their members.

Coronavirus in Ohio resources:

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