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Ensuring equal access to COVID-19 vaccine

Yet skepticism still exists in some communities
COVID vaccine access
Posted at 8:32 PM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 20:32:37-05

INDIANAPOLIS — WRTV is taking a closer look at what is being done to make sure there is equal access to the vaccine and why some skepticism about it persists, particularly in black and brown communities.

“I keep up with the chemistry and the chemistry so far has been good so that's why I'm here,” said Donald Henry. He is a senior who received his shot at the Marion County Health Department’s location near West 38th and Lafayette Road.

He said he understands skepticism but feels comfortable getting it now after doing his own research and speaking with family members.

“I've heard a lot of skepticism,” said Yvette Harvey, another resident getting her shot on Tuesday. “After doing my research and talking with some of my friends in the healthcare industry I just felt like it was a good idea, something that definitely should be done.”

Not everyone is ready to get their vaccination yet, however. “There has been this hesitancy within certain communities because of certain historical events that kind of resulted in the lack of trust in government interventions, so the COVID-19 vaccine is no different,” said Ogbonnaya Omenka, Assistant Professor and Diversity Initiatives Facilitator at Butler University.

In addition to the history with minority communities and vaccines, there is also a socioeconomic aspect that is preventing some from getting the vaccine. “Which again boils down to income and needing to take time off from work. A lot of times people may not have the luxury to take time off work to even go get the vaccine, or even for a doctor appointment,” said Omenka.

He said just because a vaccine is available in a particular community, that doesn’t always mean the people who live there have access to it. He said it is an issue that will persist until the root issues are addressed. “No matter what other problem, public health challenge we face we're going to come back to the same conversation. The same people are not going be interested in participating next time, so we still need to go back ot those issues of equity,” said Omenka.

WRTV reached out to state health leaders to see what they’re doing to make sure there is equal access for all to the vaccine, but as of Tuesday evening, have not yet heard back.

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