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Ingham County Health Officer Says Addressing Vaccine Skepticism In Communities Of Color A Priority

Photo by Hakan Nural via Unsplash

Ingham County’s Health Officer says health officials are working hard to address vaccine skepticism in communities of color.



According to arecent study by the Pew Research Center, Black and Latinx people are less inclined than any other racial or ethnic minority group to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

In Ingham County, it is not yet known how many people have declined to receive the vaccine. Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail says the hesitancy from communities of color is valid.

"In terms of their skepticism it's an appropriate thing because of history," she said.

The case of The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments, where hundreds of Black men consented to receive treatment for syphilis, but received no treatment at all and the case of Henrietta Lacks, a Black woman, whose cells were used for 70 years for medical research without her consent, support the hesitancy.

"If they don't trust the medical system, or even a health department to be telling them, it's safe, it's effective," Vail said. "Then you do have to find outreach mechanisms that basically do help you communicate with folks."

Vail said while they don’t have the capacity to track who opts out of the vaccine, they will be working with members of these communities to address their skepticism. 


“It's a matter of networking, connecting with certain people or groups of certain people, and developing their trust so that they then can help you with getting to the rest of the population," she added.


Vail pointed to church and community leaders as people they are working to connect with to help in beginning to develop trust with Black and Brown communities in the county. 


"People in the Black community, it's their churches, it's their pastors. Sometimes it's the matriarch of the family," she said.


As of Thursday, more than 20,000 coronavirus vaccines had been distributed in Ingham County.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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