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COVID-19 In Pennsylvania: Amid Skepticism, ER Doctor Wants To Educate Black Community About COVID Vaccine's Safety

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- There is concern that some groups will not get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The COVID-19 vaccine should be available to the general public this spring or summer, but the vaccines face a deep distrust in the Black community, which has been hit hard by the virus.

A number of people in the Black and Brown communities have stated they have absolutely no interest in taking the vaccine, however health officials are saying those particular groups should make sure to protect themselves against COVID-19.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are now making the rounds. First with health care professionals and those living in long-term health facilities. The vaccines should be widely distributed to the general public in the coming months.

Dr. Obinna Nwosu, an emergency medicine physician at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital, received his first shot on Wednesday.

"The best we can do is just try to educate other people," Nwosu said. "Show that we ourselves are fully trusting of the vaccine and are getting it ourselves."

Members in the health care sector have been lining up to get their dose.

"When they first started talking about the vaccine in my mind I thought it was going to be years in the making so the fact that it got here so quickly is just amazing," Renee Stephens, an ICU nurse, said.

But there are some who still have their doubts.

"Some have come to myself or some my other physician colleagues for advice because they're just scared and unsure about whether this vaccine is safe," Nwosu said.

Nwosu says that skepticism extends into Black and Brown communities, however, he explains that the vaccine wasn't whipped up over a few months. What we're seeing today was built on several years of research.

"Research into vaccines that are related to coronavirus and its variants has been going on for many, many years," Nwosu said, "so we were fortunate to be able to get this vaccine out."

Diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol are preexisting conditions that many worry about. Health officials say the vaccine will help, especially now that there's a new strain of COVID-19 being investigated.

"The CDC will be working with both state as well as local health departments about doing some surveillance screenings and genetic markers to try to find out if those strains are present in the United States," Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said.

Pennsylvania is working to finalize vaccination clinics across the state. It may take months before the shots are available to the general public.

There's still a lot of uncertainty and questions surrounding the vaccines. You can talk to your health care professional or visit the CDC website for more information on the vaccines.


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