‘We’re human too’: New Nebraska Medicine vaccine PSA shows candid side of physicians

Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 2:03 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - We may be rounding out year two of a deadly pandemic, but we’re entering a new period of concern.

Omicron, the newest variant and most unknown, compounded with cold and flu season means a community of extremely sick people.

So, the race to save lives means doctors are trying to reach the public any way they can - especially those skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccine.

It’s been a slow and steady climb; the effort to protect Black and brown communities against the virus. Mistrust, distrust, skepticism, and fear about the medicine has been a dominant reason for the lack of inoculations, but things are improving.

“We want people to have all the information that they need,” said Dr. Jasmine Marcelin of Nebraska Medicine’s Infectious Disease Division.

For that reason, you’ll see Dr. Marcelin alongside Dr. Andrea Jones, a Family Physician - in the newest COVID-19 public service announcement from Nebraska Medicine.

The PSA reassures the public that vaccines were not rushed, despite popular opinion. Equally as significant as the content of the message, is who’s saying it.

It’s not only coming from two experienced health experts but also distinguished, Black, women physicians.

6 News asked Dr. Marcelin if she thought that was significant and her answer was a resounding “yes” but with mixed feelings.

After all, Nebraska Medicine, other local hospital systems, and the Douglas County Health Dept. have been vocal about the need for more communities of color to get the shot.

They’ve tried and successfully brought the life-saving vaccine into hard-to-reach areas and neighborhoods disproportionately affected by poverty or historically more reserved about trusting doctors, making good on their promises of access and equity.

Still, the national push to find more innovative ways to reach more minorities persists and it’s no exception here at home.

Dr. Marcelin said Nebraska Medicine knows that and is working hard on the front lines and behind the scenes vigorously to find more creative ways to get information on the vaccine to everyone

“One of the things that will always warm my heart, make me a little sad and bring me joy is the number of times that have had one on one conversations with people who say ‘it makes so much sense, it feels so much better to hear about vaccines coming from you,’” Dr, Marcelin shared.

While the data does reflect minorities accepting the call to action to protect themselves and their neighbors, Black residents still lag behind in vaccination rates at just under 40% being fully vaccinated.

Quite frankly it’s a terrible time to be susceptible to the disease.

“It’s just not going to be good if you need a hospital bed and you don’t have one because the hospitals are full,” she added.

It’s another reason the PSA takes such a candid approach, showing Dr. Marcelin getting a shot in her arm and telling everyone that she’s afraid of needles. In the video, she even jokes that she can’t even look at the nurse while the dose is being administered.

“We’re doctors, but we’re human too,” said Marcelin. “Being authentic and being open is the most important thing we can do.”

She said the PSA isn’t intended to be pushy or preachy, instead, it’s an opportunity for the greater community to hear from their health leaders and experience a realistic moment with them.

“I’m not going to convince you to do one thing or another. What I wanna do is make sure you have all of the information that you need to make your decisions to feel comfortable,” said Marcelin.

In terms of the numbers, although 39% of Black residents in the Omaha metro are fully vaccinated, 43% have had at least one dose.

So, health experts expect to see the number jump in the near future.

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