WPDE — The race continues to vaccinate and prevent the ongoing spread of the coronavirus. Thursday, state health officials met with faith leaders and other advocates for the state's minority population to spread information and build trust so that neighbors will sign up for their shots.
"We are here this evening and [we're] just so fortunate to have Dr. Kelly with us to dispel those myths," said Dr. Saundra Glover with the USC Arnold School of Public Health.
The South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs partnered with Hold Out the Lifeline for a COVID-19 virus and vaccine virtual information session.
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Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly helped debunk many fears that may be contributing to the low rate of vaccination among Black and Brown South Carolinians.
“These vaccines do not change your DNA," Dr. Kelly said. "You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine."
It's no secret that the African American population, which makes up 27% of SC's state population, has been impacted as a scale disproportionate to the majority population.
“Unfortunately persons of color are infected at a higher rate, are more hospitalized, and are dying at a higher rate in our state and across the country," said Dr. Glover.
Dr. Kelly largely spoke on the science behind COVID-19 or SARS-COV-2.
READ MORE: More African Americans are dying from COVID-19 than other races in South Carolina
She brought up how the three vaccines in circulation, Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen all work. She talked about how vaccines are made with mRNA of the virus which contains RNA like we contain DNA.
She says other than salt, sugar, and some glycol-like material, the vaccine contains no other damaging materials like metals.
She also addressed a Kaiser Family Foundation study that showed African Americans, those ages 18-29, and Hispanics had the highest hesitancy to get the vaccine saying they would, 'Wait and See' how the vaccine rollout was going before signing up for a shot. She said the trends show however if more people get vaccinated, the more influence it will have on those in their communities to sign up as well.
"From September  to December people's opinions changed. So for example vaccine hesitancy went from 50% amongst African Americans down to 35%. So more people were saying they definitely or probably would get it," Kelly said.
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Dr. Kelly said the KFF study shows a majority of people would be more willing to go get the vaccine if someone in their household had already received it or a close friend had received it.
"We've had more than 1.3 million doses of vaccine given in South Carolina," Kelly said. "We probably all know someone who's been vaccinated, we may just not realize it. It's time to talk it up, if you've been vaccinated share your experiences with others."
For more information, contact 803-995-8553 or 803-461-3201.
Another key way communities of color can get the vaccine into their neighbor's arms is to request DHEC hold a vaccine event. You can offer a location on the DHEC website in this form.