NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Out of nearly 1.2 million fully vaccinated Tennesseans, approximately 70% are white.
The state’s vaccine tracker has been monitoring data by race, age, and gender. And it’s helping doctors see where confidence in the vaccine may be lacking within pockets of the population.
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“I’m running into different populations that think differently,” Dr. Donald Alcendor said. “Hesitancy has many facets. It can be fear, it can be misinformation, it can be people that are anti-vaxxers.”
Alcendor, an associate professor at Meharry Medical College, says different backgrounds have various reasons behind their distrust in the vaccine.
According to the state tracker only 10% of Black, 3% of Hispanic and 1% of Asian people are vaccinated so far.
“The impact of this on herd immunity becomes very serious,” Alcendor said.
Without people accepting the vaccine the goal of having 75-85% herd immunity cannot be reached. So Alcendor has been working tirelessly to educate people from minority communities especially about how the vaccine was created and how it was tested.
Alcendor said within the Black community there is historic mistrust of vaccines, in the Hispanic community there is fear of payment or insurance requirements and in other communities there is criticism of the quick pace.
“That barrier has to be dealt with before you get people to say ‘yes, I’m going to accept this vaccine,'” Alcendor said.
Plus, there are basic issues of misinformation that need to be addressed.
“When you’re dealing with English as a second language populations you have to go even one step farther, you have to get translators,” Alcendor said.
Alcendor is hosting various webinar sessions and Facebook Live events to answer people’s specific questions and concerns about the vaccine. He hopes that he can make people feel more comfortable with education on the importance of getting their shot against COVID-19.