116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS Turé Morrow wasn’t sure he would get a COVID-19 vaccine until he walked through the door.
Leading up to the appointment his fiancee scheduled for him, and even on the car ride over, the 46-year-old Cedar Rapids resident said he knew he did not want to get the shot.
But after arriving Saturday morning at the vaccine clinic, he agreed to the shot despite his discomfort.
“I’m nervous about it, but I do understand the need and I do understand the bigger picture,” he said. “It’s not just about me and how I feel about it, I still have to take into account everybody else’s safety.”
Others arriving at the vaccine clinic in Cedar Rapids this weekend shared similar concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines, but had set them aside for the sake of moving past the pandemic.
Roughly 100 people were vaccinated against the novel coronavirus this week in two clinics hosted by the Cedar Rapids NAACP at the ROC Center, the community center located in the Oak Hill Jackson neighborhood. About 50 shots were administered at each clinic, which took place last Tuesday and Saturday.
The clinics aimed to reach vulnerable populations in the community, particularly people of color who may face barriers to getting a shot, officials said. “We want the community as a whole to be safer for everyone,” Dedric Doolin, president of the Cedar Rapids NAACP, previously said.
Linn County Public Health provided doses of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the clinics as part of its targeted outreach to residents who face obstacles to obtaining a shot, such as language barriers or a lack of transportation to get to appointments.
Some national experts worry people of color hold some of the highest hesitancy rates, prompting organizations like the NAACP to launch national campaigns to encourage individuals to get the shot.
Even as local public health officials and community advocates continue this targeted outreach, they’re finding that it's not just the barriers of language or transportation that are keeping some from getting the shot.
The historic systematic racism in health care, as well as the negative experiences he has had with doctors because of his race, led Morrow to be uncomfortable with the idea of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
“I’m still a little anxious about what the long-term effects are going to be,” he said after getting the shot.
Ben Puccio, a 39-year-old Cedar Rapids resident who attended Saturday’s clinic, also worried about the long-term effects, particularly from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Earlier this month, news emerged about a human error at a manufacturing lab that resulted in the contamination of millions of doses of the one-shot vaccine, though none of those doses were distributed to the public.
But his discomfort in getting the shot didn’t come from a distrust of health care providers, but a distrust of government. Puccio said he felt the federal government was too heavily involved in the manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine.
Puccio said he’s seen the virus’ impact on others but hasn’t been sickened himself, despite the fact he’s an essential worker and has been exposed at his workplace. But in the interest of moving from the pandemic and returning to a sense of normalcy, he and his wife, 24-year-old Marili Puccio, both opted to get the shot this weekend.
“We’re just trying to do the right thing,” he said.
Doolin said the Cedar Rapids NAACP will consider hosting more COVID-19 vaccine clinics should there be more demand for shots and local communities of color continue to face obstacles in arranging appointments.
Linn County Public Health also is working with other local agencies and not-for-profits to reach other vulnerable populations, including immigrants and refugees, Spanish-speaking populations and individuals experiencing homelessness.
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