African Americans in Winnebago County remain skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccine

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Across the country, a number of Americans are hesitant to roll up their sleeves and receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

That rings true for the African American population. The CDC found that Black Americans are nearly two times as likely to die from COVID-19 compared to white people. But many aren’t on board with the vaccine just yet.

“The reason that African Americans particularly are not wanting to take advantage of getting the vaccine is [due to] a lack of trust, miseducation, and rumors,” said Delicia Harris, who received the vaccine.

Delicia Harris received her second COVID-19 shot on Wednesday. She says she signed up as soon as she was eligible.

“I had some hesitations because I struggle with severe allergies. Outside of that, it was a no-brainer for me from the very beginning,” Harris said.

Numbers from the Illinois Department of Public Health show that just 6% of those vaccinated in Winnebago County are African American. 14% of the county is African American, according to the 2010 census numbers.

Constance Sturdivant, a case manager at the African American Resource Center at Booker Washington Center, says many Black Americans historically have hesitations.

“We can look at other trials when they sterilized people of color, experimented on people of color. Those of us who are over 50 we remember that,” said Sturdivant.

Right now, Sturdivant says she doesn’t want the vaccine but says she would be open to it once more research is available.

“We may need to put out more information within our community about this vaccine and be honest and truthful about the side effects that are showing up and how do you counteract that,” Sturdivant explained.

As for Delicia, she’s feeling fine after her second dose and says she doesn’t have any regrets.

“I have a large circle of friends and family in my network and I wanted to encourage other people to feel confident in the science and confident in taking the vaccine,” Harris added.

We reached out to the Winnebago County Health Department to find out if they have any plans to talk with residents to calm down their fears of the vaccine. We will walk with Health Director Dr. Martell next week to find out.

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