Health officials and community leaders discuss vaccine hesitancy

Written by on April 8, 2021

Health officials and community leaders discuss vaccine hesitancy

 By Ben Stemrich

April 8, 2021

Image by Willfried Wende from Pixabay 

For the past few months, experts have raised concerns about hesitancy among people of color to get COVID-19 vaccines. But in a visit to the Lehigh Valley on April 7, community leaders and top health officials offered a different take: it’s a highly personal decision for anyone holding back.

Listen to the story.

Mohammad Elshinawy, Imam and religious director at the Islamic Education Center of Pennsylvania in Upper Macungie Township, says hesitancy to get vaccinated in the Muslim community varies. 

“It is more about not this family, or this sector, or this ethnic group, or this neighborhood. It’s more about one person within a group that finds a family of ideas online that can confirm their bias until the end of it,” Elshinawy says. 

Alison Beam, Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of health, spoke at St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus in Allentown on April 7. She agrees worries often are unique to individuals. 

“When we have had discreet examples of it, for example young women who are interested in being pregnant, they are curious about how the vaccine would play into their fertility. We work to use the OB-GYN community to really allow them to feel safe and get their vaccine as well,” Beam says.

Beam says health officials are working with local leaders in many communities to promote the vaccines as effective and safe. 

“We’re trying to make sure that we really dispel all myths and information out there about the vaccine so that folks know trusted leadership, not only in government but in their community, that these are safe and effective vaccines,” Beam says. 

State data shows 35% of Pennsylvanians have been vaccinated. The number is two points above the national average.

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