Have questions about COVID-19 vaccines? Sourcing is everything

Douglas County Health Department especially focused on working with leaders in minority communities.
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 7:03 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A day after the Douglas County Health Department shared results of its recent vaccine hesitancy survey, the department offered advice on the most reliable sources of accurate information.

DCHD recommended three sources in particular: your family’s healthcare provider, local media outlets, and your local health department.

“Celebrity tweets are not a good source of information on communicable disease matters,” DCHD said in a release Wednesday.

The survey also showed 83% of those hesitant declined the vaccine because of “past abuse of minority people.” These findings coming months after massive efforts to help build back trust.

“I’m getting frustrated and tired as we continue to try and answer the hesitancy questions,” said Pastor Portia Cavitt of Clair Memorial United Methodist Church.

Phil Rooney with the health department said DCHD knew it would be a struggle, particularly in minority communities: “One of the first things that’s going to come to people’s minds is Tuskegee.”

Douglas County health officials have been working with community leaders within North Omaha — people like Pastor Cavitt.

“We know it helps if the person looks like you when you get that message. So we have been working the churches a great deal on that and other community organizations,” Rooney said. “We’re making progress, it’s not nearly as fast as we’d like it to be.”

Health officials looking to the success in South Omaha where OneWorld Community Health Centers has been going door-to-door.

That’s a rather labor-intensive and slow process but it did generate a lot more vaccinations, so we’re going to take those things and model them and see what we can do in North Omaha,” said Rooney, noting it’s going to take time to rebuild trust in the medical system.

“That was something that was built up over centuries, literally, so in six or eight months you’re not going to change that,” Rooney said, adding that they will continue to try — and that family doctors will likely play a big role.

Pastor Cavitt has been urging doctors to take extra time with minority patients, “making sure they are talking and spending some time with their patients so they can build that trust and relationship.”

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