Goodman Community Center tackles vaccine hesitancy

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 10:19 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Goodman Community Center wants to combat vaccine hesitancy, particularly among people of color.

In its first vaccine clinic Friday, run in partnership with the African American Health Network (AAHN), the center gave shots to eligible Wisconsinites, anyone 16 years and older.

“The Goodman Center is a light in the community, especially in the east side [of Madison],” Letesha Nelson, the CEO and executive director of the Goodman Center, said. “A lot of people know us, trust us.”

Nelson said many people still feel hesitant about the COVID vaccine. “Even if you don’t get the vaccination today, you can still come and talk to somebody and learn more about the Pfizer vaccine because that’s the one that we’re offering here today,” she said.

The Goodman Center has three more clinics scheduled for May.

According to Friday data from the Department of Health Services, Black Wisconsinites come last when it comes to COVID shots received. Less than 20 percent of Black residents in Wisconsin have gotten a dose or more of the vaccine, while their white counterparts have surpassed 40 percent. Asian and American Indian groups have been vaccinated at 37 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

Dr. Eva Vivian, the president of AAHN and a UW pharmacy professor, said she has seen vaccine hesitancy in the Black community.

“I know that many African Americans are afraid,” she said. “They don’t have a good relationship with their health care provider or have had bad experiences with the health care system.”

Dr. Vivian admitted, she also initially had questions about the vaccine, including the “politics” surrounding it.

But after research, she decided to get immunized. She even helped administer the shots on Friday. “As a pharmacist. I know that all drugs cause side effects, and it’s just natural to want to wait to see if everything is okay. But the reality is, in this situation, while you’re waiting, you are at risk for contracting a deadly virus,” she said.

Dr. Vivian said she understood the seriousness of the coronavirus. “This time last year, I was treated for breast cancer,” she shared. “So I had a compromised immune system, and it was very frightening for me to learn that there was a deadly virus that could take my life.”

Now cancer-free and fully vaccinated, she hopes others will roll up their sleeves.

The Goodman Community Center is accepting reservations for their vaccine clinics in May.

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