COVID-19 Vaccine: Concerns over low vaccine turnout at the federal run sites lead to questions about vaccine hesitancy

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Concerns over low vaccine turnout at federally run sites are leading to questions over vaccine hesitation by members in underserved communities.

One of the biggest problems prior to the creation of these sites was increasing access to the vaccine. Now that these sites are up and running in underserved communities, the turnout is still incredibly low.

Doctors from UF Health Jacksonville tell Action News Jax part of the issue could be mistrust of the vaccine.

“A lot of people are worried about side effects, that’s what I’m seeing in my clinics,” said Dr. Ross Jones. “I think that translates to the broader communities.”

On the first day of vaccine distribution, the two new sites did 123 vaccines in total. 114 at Normandy Community Center, and nine at the Hammond Senior Center.

Approximately 150 people were vaccinated at Normandy on the second day, with just a slight increase to 29 at Hammond.

Dr. Jones says there’s still hesitation in underserved and minority communities, and that education should be a never-ending effort.

“What we’ve seen is COVID by itself, without this vaccine, is much worse. This definitely hurt communities of color the worst,” Dr. Jones said. “We’re more likely to be hospitalized and die from it. That’s one more reason to get the vaccine. We want to keep our families safe and return to normal – we must get the vaccine.”

According to the Florida Department of Health, Duval County has vaccinated a total of 133,432 people. Of that number, over 76,000 are white, while just over 21,000 are black.

One man who got vaccinated at Normandy said it was a breeze.

“I went in there, sat in the chair, she wiped my arm with alcohol and gave me the shot,” he said.

Dr. Jones says side effects won’t be the same for everybody. Continuing education on the vaccine is essential in the community. He added that people who get the vaccine need to have conversations with family members and those they trust, and let them know about their experience.

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