Nebraska working to get minorities on board with COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 10:39 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The push is on to get more Nebraska minorities on board with the COVID vaccine. The state’s health department hosted a second virtual town hall Thursday night in an effort to dispel myths and grow trust in the vaccine.

6 News spoke with one family whose personal loss is helping to drive the message home.

“He tested positive on a Sunday night and he died on a Wednesday, “said Edna Statham, who’s lost her son 51-year-old Jimmy Johnson last May to COVID. “I talked to him that morning and just a few hours later he was gone.”

The pain said Statham is still very raw and unable to mourn her loss with family.

“Even for his funeral our family couldn’t get together because I didn’t want anyone else to catch that,” said Statham, who’s now urging others to do what she’s done, and get the covid vaccine.

“Everybody in our family is taking it and anybody I talk to know I tell them they’ve got to take it,” she said. “It’s the only way we’re going to survive this.”

Jimmy’s uncle, Tim Clark, also got the vaccine and is hitting the ground in north Omaha to share the message.

“People have memories in terms of just this country has done some horrible things to black people that’s causing them to very reluctant in taking this vaccine,” said Clark, noting the truth about the vaccine needs to come from within the community. “I think we have to look at some grassroots, build a strong ground game, I don’t care if we have to go door-to-door.”

As for Statham, the vaccine’s offering hope and bringing her one step closer to that long-awaited time with family.

“You know being able to hug and eat together and just talk about good times,” she said. “We haven’t been able to do that.”

Across the U.S., African Americans are nearly three times as likely to die of COVID-19. A poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation last month shows black people continue to be more reluctant towards the vaccine. With 43 percent saying they want to wait and see, that’s compared to 26 percent of white Americans taking that same approach.

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