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COVID: Organizers In Marin City Working To Combat Vaccine Hesitancy

MARIN CITY (KPIX) -- In one of the most highly vaccinated counties in the California, one small African-American community is lagging behind.

Marin County has a nearly 90 percent vaccination rate, but in the unincorporated community of Marin City it's less than 60 percent. Despite COVID cases occurring at an all-time high, Paul Austin, the founder of the non-profit PlayMarin, thinks he knows why.

"We are such an isolated community and we are one of the last communities that really enjoy being around one another," he said. "So that's the reason we saw some of the spikes here in Marin City."

Austin says residents here have enjoyed a return to social gathering, but the more contagious delta variant is taking its toll. Most of the older guys sitting out on the lawn along Drake Street have gotten vaccinated, but Pete Bailey says there are those who just won't consider it.

"A lot of these people just don't trust the system, as a whole," he said. "And if they're feeling well they won't get anything. We got people here, if they DON'T feel well, they won't get medical attention for anything, for whatever reason."

Jesse Polk is 88-years-old and has been trying in vain to get some of his friends to take the shot.

"Well, most will say they're afraid to have it, or whatever. I don't know," he said. "I just don't understand that part."

It is in the younger population that there is the most fear. Julius Holtzclaw is declining the vaccine, suspicious about how quickly it was developed.

"A lot of the younger generation believes that, by taking this vaccination, they may mutate into something else," Holtzclaw said.

A young woman named Shaniece with strong religious beliefs said she is leaving her health in God's hands. She said she doesn't like being pressured to take the vaccine.

"This is being pushed on people who are choosing not to and they're saying, forget your religious beliefs, forget what you believe, because this vaccine is important and you have to take it," she said. "But before, with any other vaccines, you have a choice to take it."

But Austin thinks it's more about complacence than defiance. He thinks young people simply doesn't believe they'll get sick, and all the negativity is turning them off.

So, to encourage vaccination, a number of community groups, including Austin's PlayMarin, are raising funds to offer gift cards and other incentives.

"It's just a matter of creating more of a 'healthy buzz' around something that's positive," he said.

Covid-19 has already provided the stick, he thinks it's time to offer his community a carrot, as well.

For more information about contributing to the vaccination incentive fund, click on

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