NewsLocal NewsCoronavirus


St. Lucie County vaccine 'myth buster' town hall turns into plea for doses

33,000 people vaccinated but only 1,000 African Americans
Posted at 9:02 PM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 00:46:55-05

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A town hall to help dispel myths about the coronavirus vaccine quickly turned into a plea for easier access Thursday night.

While questions about the vaccine's safety remain a concern for residents, others say the ability to sign up and get to a vaccination site is an even bigger problem.

"That's what our issue is right now. Getting that vaccine inside of the community so that people that need it can get it," said St. Lucie County resident Hazel Hoylman.

The town hall was held by county leaders and doctors across the Treasure Coast.

"I really do think there is a lot of myths out there, lots of misunderstanding," Hoylman said.

The question surrounding the coronavirus vaccine quickly turned from why to how.

"We have people that can't drive, who don't have access to the internet, who may not have computers," Hoylman said.

She and several others from the Lincoln Park community in Fort Pierce say that access to the vaccine is a huge problem for residents.

"This is not a myth, as we heard from the numbers tonight," said St. Lucie County resident Kenneth Mills Sr.

There is also a disparity in who has been vaccinated.

County leaders said of the 33,000 vaccinated so far, 14,000 are listed as white, but only 1,000 are African American. The rest were classified as other.

"I'm not sure there's a lot of myths as much as there are a lot of questions,” said Dr. Moti Ramgopal, an infectious disease physician at Midway Specialty Care.

Ramgopal said the demand for doses is incredibly high.

"'Where can I get it, and when can I get it is really the big question that I'm hearing. Not much like I did in the early days, 'Is it safe? What's the story behind it.' I'm not hearing those questions anymore," Ramgopal said.

Residents said they are hoping their voices are heard and that vaccines can be brought to them soon.

"Stop telling us to be patient. We need the vaccine now, and it's all over the county," Mills Sr. said. "People are dying in Lincoln Park. We have the facilities. We have people to help administer it."

County leaders said they have a plan to bring doses to underserved communities, but until they are secured, residents will need to wait for it to be put in place.