Leaders: Don’t shame people into getting the vaccine

Leaders: Don’t shame people into getting the vaccine

As COVID-19 vaccines are distributed, there has been hesitation among some in the Black community to receive it. The key to assuaging their concerns is understanding where they are coming from, said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

These worries stem from a history of mistreatment that Black Americans have endured, feelings that won’t be overcome by shaming people who are worried about getting the vaccine. Instead, people should talk about that history and “have those conversations, openly and candidly, as a way of moving to people having a greater comfort submitting to a vaccine not just for themselves, but for the community at large,” Raoul said.

Raoul shared these thoughts just before receiving his first dose of vaccine at Advocate Medical Group’s vaccine clinic at Imani Village on Chicago’s South Side. By receiving the vaccine publicly, he hoped to highlight that the shots are safe and effective.

“It’s this type of leadership that helps us build trust, helps us build loyalty, helps us really dig at the heart of the pandemic in the communities that are hit hardest,” said Rashard Johnson, president of Advocate Trinity and Advocate South Suburban Hospitals in Chicago.

COVID-19 has hit communities of color hard, including in Chicago and Milwaukee. The three available vaccines can provide a way out of the pandemic, but only if people step up to take them when it’s their turn. Supply challenges have limited the availability of the shots, but vaccination rates continue to climb as more doses become available to hospitals, pharmacies and other sites.

Dr. Oyinkansola Okubanjo, an emergency medicine physician at Advocate Christ Medical Center, says she’s seen vaccine hesitancy drop over time in the Black community as accurate information spreads. She urged people to get information from credible sources like the Centers for Disease Control and said that while the shots have mild side effects, “the COVID virus itself is way more dangerous.”

Want to learn more about the vaccines? Visit aah.org/vaccine.

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  1. Why are you dividing us into colors? Why are you not saying “As COVID-19 vaccines are distributed, there has been hesitation among PEOPLE to receive it.”? Shaming people is NOT just happening to blacks; it is happening to ALL people.

  2. If we continue to divide every single subject by race then there will continue to be prejudices. What’s next, the issue of toilet paper in which we need to divide separately by race in this time? Yes, we all need to be aware and decent of and to one another. That’s the key, “we” and “all”. How will the future generations have a chance at doing better when articles like this are a constant reminder that one race has to have separate attention from another? The media is responsible for much of what is continuing to go on.

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About the Author

Mike Riopell
Mike Riopell

Mike Riopell, health enews contributor, is a media relations coordinator with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. He previously worked as a reporter and editor covering politics and government for the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and Bloomington Pantagraph, among others. He enjoys bicycles, home repair, flannel shirts and being outside.