Local leaders say government needs to earn trust in communities of color ahead of COVID vaccine distribution

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As the U.S. prepares for the COVID-19 vaccine to roll out, here in New York State Gov. Cuomo is calling for it to be equally distributed to communities of color.

“COVID infection [is] higher among Blacks and Latinos; more essential workers [are] Blacks and Latinos. And now the answer for the vaccine would actually aggravate that disparity.” he said during on WAMC Tuesday.

To combat that disparity, Cuomo says he’s working with officials across the state on community outreach to make sure vaccines are distributed equally throughout areas with a higher population of people of color. But local leaders say that’s just part of the challenge – the other is for the government to gain those communities’ trust.

“I think that what we are going to see with the vaccine distribution is going to be the same type of hesitancy in communities of color as we saw with testing,” explained Buffalo Common Council President and COVID-19 survivor Darius Pridgen. “I myself saw people who refused to be tested or didn’t want to be tested fearing the government.”

Pridgen says he’s already spoken with people who have the same concerns with the vaccine, and that he believes it’s now in the government’s hands to right this wrong.

Dr. Raul Vazquez is the CEO of Urban Family Practice in Buffalo. He says the government could solve this issue by getting out into the community, as well as work with primary care physicians who are closely working with these communities.

Dr. Vazquez says in order to show his patients the COVID-19 vaccine is safe, he plans to get one and record it to people can watch.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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