Miami Valley Black medical professionals: COVID vaccines safe, important

Credit: Will Jones

Credit: Will Jones

Miami Valley Black medical professionals have a message to share: Coronavirus vaccines are safe, effective and important.

As Minority Health Month kicks off this week, the Gem City Medical Dental Pharmaceutical Society, an association of African American and minority medical professionals in the Miami Valley, in partnership with Premier Health have released a public service announcement video encouraging everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The full video will be shared on social media and a shorter version will air on local television.

In the video, 11 doctors and one pharmacist of color declare they have all gotten the shot.

The health care workers share this message:

“I call greater Dayton home. So do my patients. But for the health of our region to be truly great, people of color can’t be left behind. As medical professionals, we understand that racial justice and health equity go hand in hand. We know that COVID-19 harms communities of color more than other communities,” they say.

That means more hospitalizations, more deaths, more exposures that threaten families and neighborhoods.

“But we have reason to hope that better days are ahead. The COVID-19 vaccines work,” they say in the video. “Scientists of color and clinical trial participants of color have been key to making it a reality. We can trust these vaccines. They’re a step forward toward greater health equity across our society. And they’re a step toward bringing all of us together again.”

Dr. Andre Harris, president of Gem City and chief medical officer of Atrium Medical Center, said it is important for African American people to see local African American doctors get the coronavirus vaccine. On top of being bombarded by misinformation online, Black and minority Americans have historically suffered abuse from the health care system in this country and that makes them wary, Harris said.

“So our goal is to give trust and to say, ‘If you’re looking to me to say whether or not you should do this, then let me show you because I’ve already gotten vaccinated,” he said.

Credit: Will Jones

Credit: Will Jones

If people are unsure about getting vaccinated, Harris recommends they reach out to their doctor or another medical professional they trust for more information.

Premier Health’s internal data revealed that their mass vaccination clinics were — similar to the rest of the state — getting the shot to disproportionately lower numbers of minority residents compared to their population in the community, said Eloise Broner, chief of shared services or Premier Health

“We were looking at our own data and decided that we needed to have a more focused outreach on our minority and communities of color,” she said.

That campaign to more equitably distribute the vaccine has included addressing vaccine hesitancy through messaging like this public service announcement, as well as facilitating access to the vaccine. Premier has worked toward the latter by offering a vaccination scheduling phone line in addition to the online scheduling option and by opening a clinic in the northwest branch of the Dayton Metro Library with Gem City patients getting priority access to appointments, Broner said.

The share of Black Americans who want to get the coronavirus vaccine rose significantly over the past year but still remains below the overall population’s willingness to get the shot, according to polling done by the Kaiser Family Foundation. In a report released Tuesday, the Kaiser Family Foundation that 55% of Black adults now say they have either gotten vaccinated or want to as soon as possible, compared to 64% of all white adults.

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