More than half of Black San Diegans remain hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine and local experts say the data underscores the need to prioritize trust-building efforts and equitable access within communities.
"It's the interaction that physicians and patients have, it's still sometimes suboptimal, the trust factor, and that's why we emphasize the importance of getting out in the community to discuss these things with our population," said Robert Gillespie, MD, a cardiologist at Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group.
Only 46.7% of Black San Diegans are fully vaccinated, according to county data. That’s compared to 63.3% of whites, 70.4% of Asians, and 71.8% of Latinos.
“More efforts are necessary," said Gillespie. "I think continuing this fight will provide us with more vaccine coverage.”
Doctor Gillespie has joined forces with other local health care providers to create the Joint Initiative for Racial Equity in Health to help change that.
"Our goal in the community is to not only deal with issues related to COVID-19, but we also want to avoid the next pandemic situation,” said Gillespie.
Gillespie’s group has been holding educational forums on the vaccine and awareness events.
"Every single time they prove successful," said Gillespie. "And what I call successful is if I can get one person to do the right thing, I call that successful. We usually do better than that, though.”
The group hopes to keep that success going one San Diegan at a time at a free vaccine event on Saturday.
The free vaccine event will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. at Bethel Ame Church of San Diego on K Street. Walk-ins are welcomed but appointments are recommended. To make an appointment visit myturn.ca.gov.