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Vaccination races involve grassroots aides to fight distrust

Chicago (AP) — His last job was selling cars, but in his new gig he worked to turn the tide against a pandemic.

He is one of more than 50 outreach workers who participated in a Chicago hospital to promote vaccination against COVID-19 in the black and brown areas that were hit.

Their job is to reach out to strangers in laundromats, grocery stores and churches, hand out educational brochures and book vaccinations for those who are happy.

“I think I’m my brother’s keeper. I don’t try to force them. I’m persistent,” he said.

Top U.S. health officials are eager to get the Americans back to normal as the COVID-19 variant is widespread, mask and distance rules are relaxed, and as soon as possible immunize as many people as possible. Say you are participating in a competition to do.

As part of these efforts, the Biden administration will invest nearly $ 10 billion on Thursday to increase access to vaccines in color communities, rural areas, low-income groups and other underserved communities. Announced. Part of the money will be sent to the Community Health Center. Funding comes primarily from American rescue programs.

The United States immunizes about 2.5 million people daily and one in three adults is vaccinated at least once, many of whom are skeptical or have to be vaccinated. I’m saying

Dr. Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Health Security Center, said:

He said the number was unlikely to interfere with the effective control of the virus. To make sure this is not the case, authorities are working to change their minds and promote access in the minority community, where skepticism is one of the hurdles to vaccination.

They show that black leaders have been shot, preaching the benefits of vaccination at Sunday worship services, and holding a zoom conference where experts dismantle myths. Michigan participates in hairdressers and salons. A mobile clinic was set up to vaccinate workers at the Kentucky Racecourse and migrant workers in California.

In the socially distant era of COVID-19, the work of regular folk recruiters in trenches stands out.

Simmons is black, amiable and talkative — natural for this kind of work.

“I was a little scared at first,” said Simmons, who left the car dealership when his colleague was infected with the virus. He tells them that he has friends and family who have died and how easy it is to sign up.

Sometimes it’s a difficult sale.

“I would like to say that there are more sign-ins than not, but I don’t think so,” Simmons said.

“They don’t trust it. Some people think that vaccine production is too fast and unsafe,” he said. “They feel like experimental rats.”

It’s a general story. But that’s not all.

For many blacks, distrust of medical institutions is deep-rooted. The reasons are diverse, enthusiastic, and often effective. And they don’t start with Tuskegee, a US government study that began in 1932 and withheld treatment of black men with syphilis.

Distrust results from the absence of blacks in studies that guide modern medical decisions from surgery on enslaved women. This includes false assumptions claiming racially-based biological differences and contempt in the clinic.

Some people are afraid of needles. Some people believe in the myths of the Internet. And some are going to get vaccinated, but want to wait for how others work first. For some, the problem is lack of transportation to vaccination sites, lack of internet to get information on where and when to get vaccinated, or lack of a legitimate doctor.

Some US polls and statistics show that vaccination rates are still the highest among whites, but hesitation is reduced in some color communities. In Chicago, the gap narrowed, but the rate of initial doses was 36% white, 30% Latino, and 24% black.

Simmons has a mission to change that.

On a chilly Saturday, March, his battlefield was a laundromat in a working-class neighborhood southwest of downtown Chicago. St. Anthony Hospital had set up a temporary center where new employees gathered when outreach workers deleted their contact information and made reservations.

Simmons is a stylish black woman with long blonde hair tufts wearing a mask, holding a folder of vaccine information, pulling clothes from an orange duffel bag and putting them in the washing machine, Tasha McClinton, 34. ) Is approaching.

His shirt was a ceremonial first pitch, with the words “worthy of a shot” and the image of a syringe. He then offered to sign up for her. McClinton shook his head and gave a reason.

“I’m not sick,” she said. “It may cause complications for me.” No one in her family got COVID-19, she added. Simmons accepted it and left.

But he came back a few minutes later, apologizing “if I was surprised at you,” and told her, “I was really interested in why you weren’t interested.” His pamphlet.

“You really don’t want to be brute force,” Simmons later said. “You also need to be a good judge.”

CB Johnson, who runs a drug recovery group in Chicago in the Black district where he grew up, is helping people get vaccinated there. He said insider credit would help. So is patience.

“We deal with many people that many people don’t want to deal with,” Johnson said. “We tell them,’Hey, we can take you there if you want it, but if you don’t, when we decide you want You can give the option to say “I’m still here”. ‘

“Listen to what their concerns are, listen to their opinions, verify their concerns, and when you come back and explain to them,” Hey, look, I give you a COVID. What does it mean if you catch it? Do you rather want to get a vaccine that helps you? “

Community activist Debra Stanley is helping to lead a support group for former drug users and former criminals in South Bend, Indiana. Vaccination became a hot topic at recent meetings, and skeptics voiced.

Air Force veteran Darryl McKinney strummed his cell phone and spoke out about the U.S. Disease Control Center when Goodwill employee Sonya Chandler said he saw a social media post about the side effects of a strange vaccine. read.

Stanley replied gently. “Daryl got his information from the CDC, you got your information from Facebook. Know your source.”

Still, McKinney said he didn’t trust the US government and wouldn’t be vaccinated.

“The last time I was in the barber, some guys were talking about it,” McKinney said. “We are not going to be guinea pigs.”

Stanley said he wasn’t going to twist his arm.

“All of us is to keep up with all the information and keep people up to date,” she said. “We never believe that it is our role to facilitate decision making. To ensure that people have the best information when they are ready to make a decision. It ’s our role. ”

Chandler later said the meeting “made me more aware. Now I’m looking at it, well, I was shot because it helps keep others in the community from getting sick. May be better “

Returning to Chicago’s laundromat, Simmons won a 62-year-old demolition worker, Theoprispoke, approaching on the sidewalk. The black gray-bearded man agreed to sign up immediately. Inside, he took a lump of dog ear scraps out of his faded green coverall pocket and groped to find a scribbled version of his phone number.

“I wanted to get vaccinated, but I don’t have an attending physician,” Pork said. He said he knew people who died of COVID-19 and was avoiding people who did not wear masks. He lives in this neighborhood, so it’s not difficult to get to a nearby St. Anthony vaccination site.

“I’m afraid of needles. I hate taking shots of any kind, but you have to do that,” Pork said. “I’m not worried because I have God on my side.”

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Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner.

Vaccination races involve grassroots aides to fight distrust

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