CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The vaccine rollout is ongoing, but there’s still some work to be done before we reach herd immunity.
On Thursday evening, a group that has led the way for helping Charlottesville communities of color learn about and get the vaccine held a virtual town hall.
It featured medical experts, community leaders, and an area pastor, touching on a number of topics. The conversation started with a reminder of why getting your shot is crucial to ending the devastations of COVID, which have unfairly and disproportionately hurt Black communities.
“We have the most to lose, frankly, by not becoming vaccinated as quickly and early as possible,” said Dr. Michael Williams, a surgeon at the University of Virginia health system.
Given the toll of the virus, the organizers of the town hall, Your Life Matters Cville, want to spread a message of the importance of vaccinations. Williams says they are extraordinarily safe.
“Your risk of infected someone in your family who is not vaccinated goes down dramatically,” he said. “Your chance of having serious COVID infection is incredibly small.”
Panelists Gertie Sanders, a community activist, and Shelby Edwards, the executive director of PHAR, said breaking barriers was about a few key things. First is providing accurate and timely information.
“If I don’t know - and I think this builds trust within the community - I will get that information and bring it back to you,” Sanders said.
Then, it involves being a leader and setting an example. Edwards told a story of a woman who shared her feelings of hesitancy with her.
“When asked about taking the vaccine, she said ‘I don’t really know about it, but I do know my friend said it was safe, so I should probably do that.’ And I thought that was so sweet.”
That’s an example that Williams hopes to set with his family to ease concerns over the recent pause of Johnson & Johnson shots.
“If J&J is offered for my 16-year-old and my 14-year-old when his time comes, they will be first in line if I can get them to be first in line, absolutely,” he said. “And [moderator] Jeanita [Richardson] knows me enough to know I love my children like I love breathing.”