A health provider’s voice speaks volumes in the world of healthcare as it is a shared story, from both the patient and provider. Dr. Cheryl Davis of Tuskegee University shared her perspective on vaccine hesitancy, equity, and medical discrimination within rural populations and their impact on minority communities. Gaining community trust is a daily struggle for providers and having limited resources only adds to the struggle.
Dr. Davis attributes much of the vaccine hesitancy to an influx of misinformation. The chaotic entrance of COVID-19 resulted in no one truly knowing what it was or what next steps to take. Falsehoods from personal opinions, conspiracy theorists, and social media tainted the reputation of the vaccine’s projected effectiveness. Information was immediate, erratic, and offered nothing concrete. This misappropriated information led to skepticism and fear; especially in our rural populations that were already struggling. “The focus left the pandemic and turned into something else.”
Vaccine equity is recognized among our poor, underserved communities and rural populations. They have not received the adequate or available doses that we see in urban areas. According to Dr. Davis, when the initial rollouts began, only easy access urban communities were accommodated. At that point, the current healthcare disparity of limited resources was highlighted.
Lack of facilities, providers, education, insurance and transportation posed major challenges for these areas. Dr. Davis feels “a special message is needed for our communities.” Members of rural populations are just as deserving as others; however, they must know that those, who are reaching out to them, can relate to their situation.
Pfizer has made the vaccine available to youth, who represent our future. Dr. Davis supports pediatric vaccinations as children represent that population that needs protecting. They are continuously interacting with others their age as well as their family members. This lifestyle is crucial to their growth and maturity. They have a need to interact with their peers, educators and elders. They want to go back to school, play sports, and socialize again.
Dr. Davis strongly advises people to use reliable resources such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Health Institute (NHI), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and World Health Organization (WHO). These entities offer valid data, backed by research and results, that help dispel many of the myths that are deterring people from protecting themselves and their loved ones.
Dr. Davis supports vaccinations as the medical and science communities are familiar with respiratory related viruses. COVID-19 is not a surprise to researchers; however, it has left very few people without impact. The pandemic has touched the lives of everyone. Moving forward, Dr. Davis encourages people, “This is not a time that we should fear but rather an opportunity to learn more from reliable sources and make a reliable decision not based on friends or social media. Get Vaccinated! The consequences of the infection are more serious than the temporary effects of the vaccine.”