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Coalition tackles ‘vaccine hesitance’ in the Black family

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Posted at 10:35 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 23:58:33-04

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact Black communities in our area, even with more vaccination sites. That's according to a coalition of health care workers on the front lines working to get more people vaccinated. Even kids. And with masks becoming optional in school districts how could this impact the COVID rate among young people?

On Thursday afternoon, Wells Recreation Center in Riviera Beach became a distribution site for the Moderna vaccine, but Carnell Coleman isn't here for a vaccination.

“I’ll leave the decision open to what the protocol is with the CDC — if it's not a mandate I’m not going to do it,” said Coleman. “It’s personal perception on what you want to put inside your body.”

For now, he doesn’t want the vaccine. And when it’s publicly released for his child’s age group neither will his kid. It’s troubling hesitancy according to Kitonga Kiminyo, MD, Kielle Medical LLC CEO and infectious disease specialists.

”Almost a quarter of all our new cases of COVID are in the 24-years-of-age and younger group. So that would include our adolescents and our young adults,” said Kiminyo. “So that’s why we feel it’s important to try to market to as many young adults as possible the importance and the education what COVID is. And why it’s important to get vaccinated.”

On May 13 a panel of pastors, doctors, nurse organizations and everyday citizens working to get more people in Black communities vaccinated spoke exclusively to WPTV. For some on the panel, it's personal.

”I have a 22-year-old son and I speak with him every day about the COVID vaccine and he will not take it,” said Rochum Ridley-Mccray, Palm Beach County Black Nurses Association president. “He says he’s not going to take it until next year. All his friends as well have the mindset they’re going to wait. They’re healthy.”

This week the CDC reports two-thirds of whites had received at least one dose, compared to nine percent of Blacks. See the report here.

And with the age of vaccinations being lowered Tiffany McCalla, T. Leroy Jefferson Medical Society board president encourages parents to do their research.

”When these vaccinations become available for younger children I do think it's important that we all really take pause and listen to the medical experts,” McCalla said.

Like Felix Emmanuel who was fully vaccinated a month ago and plans to consult with his son's doctor.

“If the doctor says ’It’s okay, it's a good idea. A lot of kids will be protected, then I will consider it.”

To learn more about vaccination efforts in the Black community or to learn about a focus group you can take part in, click here.