African-American community hesitant to receive Covid vaccine

ELKHART, Ind. --- A new study found that 71% of African-Americans know someone who has been hospitalized, or died from Covid-19. Surprisingly, a majority of those people said they still would not take the Covid-19 vaccine, citing the main reasons as being ignored and a lack of trust. 

"The worst thing you can do to African-Americans is to ignore us, and to say to us that, what we are experiencing every single day is not real when you've not lived it," said the Pastor at Agape Baptist Church Reverend Dannell Brown. 

According to PEW research, 42% of African-Americans say they would receive the Covid vaccine. Community leaders in Elkhart County believe, that relatively low percentage, could come from a lack of faith. 

"The African-American community does not have that personal relationship with their physicians, where they have developed a trust level," said Reverend Brown. 

Lydia Mertz, the Elkhart County Health Officer agrees, saying the lack of trust is fair. 

"That indicates we have a lot of work to do. I can understand their hesitancy because there hasn't been a lot of information released about the vaccine," said Mertz. 

Reverend Dannell Brown, is the pastor at Agape Baptist Church, a majority-black one that has seen the virus ravage his congregation. 

"We've been greatly impacted by the virus so much, that once we come back together after the virus, I don't know what the congregation will look like," said Brown. 

As Reverend Brown sees the impact of Covid-19, he understands as a leader in the African-American community, he is the key for more to get on board.

"Those of us who are leaders, those of us who are well-known figures in the African-American community, we have to advocate for it," said Brown. 

He even told me, as long as it is done by a trusted physician, he is willing to receive the vaccine publicly. 

The reason? He knows the younger generation is watching. 

"They need to see things modeled, and I think that when it's modeled by someone of my age and someone whose been in this community for so long. Someone who has been on the edge of certain issues, I think that it's very important that I do it publicly," said Brown.

As the reverend shows others in his community the vaccine is okay, he believes more will follow. 

"People like us, you know like Reverend Brown, leaders in the black community. If I see them take the vaccine I'm more likely to take it because of them being people we look up to and aspire to be," said Elkhart Resident Aaron Gilliam. 

The pandemic has greatly affected the African-American community, and leaders in these communities understand, a team effort is needed to get to the light at the end of the tunnel. 

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