INDIANAPOLIS — More than 759,000 Hoosiers have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but state records show only 4% of those with their first dose are Black or African American.
“The shot doesn’t hurt." Jim Hester said. "I’ve had a lot people ask me what was it like?”
Hester just received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. He’s a caregiver for his 85-year-old mother. He admits at one point he was hesitant about getting the vaccine.
“My initial feelings were, I'm very much aware of the problems at Tuskegee and that sort of thing and how people of color, African-Americans, have been used as guinea pigs for medical science and different things,” Hester said. “I was very much aware of that. I also realize, too, that COVID was killing people.”
Hester is a deacon at New Era Church, where Senior Pastor Clarence C. Moore is part of the Red Cross’s coalition aimed at educating minority communities about the vaccine.
“I lost a very close mentee, a young man who was 38-years-old, a father, a great husband, caught the virus a week before Christmas,” Moore said.
As part of his role in the coalition, Moore has held meetings with his members along with local doctors to answer questions they have about the vaccine. He also spent time during a recent sermon to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine and expects to continue this effort in the future.
“I figured that I need to get into the fight," Moore said. "I've lost too many close people to me to this virus. I want it to be over so we can get back to what we might call normal."
"Our effort is not so much about saying, 'Hey you should get vaccinated' as it is saying, 'Hey let’s have the discussion, let’s take the time to talk about it which we know will be build trust,'" Chad Priest, Chief Executive Officer of the Red Cross Indiana Region, said.
Each member of the coalition is equipped with the resources they need to feel comfortable having conversations with the people they serve.
“This is something I've been doing within my Hispanic community answering those questions, Vivian should I take the vaccination? I said that's your own opportunity,” Dr. Vivian Cintron, American Red Cross Board member said.
A series of in-person and virtual events will be held in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood and well as neighborhoods on the west side.
People will also start to see social media campaigns and billboards from the coalition.