April 9, 2021
(Austin) – Pastors from nine Austin black churches will join medical experts from Central Health-affiliated CommUnityCare Health Centers for a series of online town hall meetings about COVID-19 vaccines.
Central Health and CommUnityCare host the first of five virtual town hall meetings – COVID Vaccines and our Community – at 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 13. The town hall will include candid dialogue about barriers preventing some African Americans from getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Although African Americans have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and are much more likely to die or be hospitalized than white people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans have the lowest rates of vaccinations among any ethnic group.
As of March, white Americans are being vaccinated at a rate three times higher than black Americans. In addition, according to recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, about 35% of black Americans said they don’t plan to get the vaccine, citing fears about safety and concerns that the vaccines are so new.
“We must begin to have honest conversations about why African Americans distrust the health care system in America,” said Dr. Charles A. Moody Jr., senior pastor of The ROCK ATX, public health strategist, founder and CEO of The Community Coalition for Health (C2H), and Central Health consultant. “There has been a long history of institutional racism and medical experimentation in the United States dating back beyond the Tuskegee Syphilis Study in the 1930s all the way to slavery. We [African Americans] have legitimate reasons to ask difficult questions and it’s not enough for medical and health leaders to simply say, ‘Trust us.’”
The town hall meetings will address vaccine hesitancy by dispelling common myths with facts:
- Vaccines have been tested
- Vaccines can’t give you COVID
- There are some side effects, but for most people they are minor
Attendees are encouraged to ask questions during the livestream presentation on Central Health’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/CentralHealthTX. A recording of the town hall will remain on the page for those who miss the livestream event.
“We must address vaccine hesitancy head-on. Vaccines are safe and our best hope for ending the COVID-19 pandemic,” Clifton Peele, D.P.M. of CommUnityCare Health Centers said. “We all want to return to normal. We can’t do that unless everyone gets vaccinated, we continue to wear masks, and avoid large crowds – for now.”
“Through the end of March, CommUnityCare has vaccinated over 18,000 of its patients with approximately 80% of those vaccinated representing communities of color,” CommUnityCare Health Centers CEO Jaeson Fournier, D.C., M.P.H., said. CommUnityCare is one of the largest Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) in Texas. “However, fewer of our African American patients are coming in to be vaccinated. We are so very thankful to be partnering with area churches to provide facts and answer questions so that those we care for and partner with can better understand that the vaccines are safe and greatly reduce hospitalizations and death caused by COVID-19.”
|WHAT:||Virtual Town hall to address common myths to help people overcome their fear.|
|WHEN:||7:00 – 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 13|
|WHERE:||Facebook Live – https://www.facebook.com/CentralHealthTX|