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Red Cross coalition aims to ease concerns about the vaccine in minority communities

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The American Red Cross of Indiana started a coalition to ease worries about getting vaccinated in minority communities. The coalition is made up of 37 people from community partners such as churches and nonprofit organizations.

Black and LatinX communities have been disproportionately affected by the virus and are the very few wanting to get vaccinated, according to data from the Red Cross.

  • Whites make up 85.1% of Indiana’s population and 84.8% of those receiving vaccinations
  • Blacks make up nearly 10% of the population, but only 3.9% of vaccine recipients
  • Latinos make up 7.1% of the state’s population, but only 2.2% of the vaccinations

Chief Executive Officer Chad Priest said the hesitancy is rooted in systemic oppression and injustice, specifically within the black community.

News 8 followed 65-year-old Jim and Mary Hester while receiving their second dose of the vaccine at IU Health. Jim is the son and caregiver of Mary who are African American. He’s also a former WISH-TV photojournalist and cancer survivor. Jim had heart, stomach and brain surgery last year. He’s also a kidney transplant patient. Jim and his mother said receiving the vaccine was quick, painless and look forward to family gatherings again.

“We’re talking about something that is available to you and it’s free that’s the thing,” said Jim.

“I hear so many people say ‘I don’t know what’s in it,’” Mary added. “The great comedian Chris Rock said ‘you have a headache you take an Advil.’ He said ‘I don’t know what’s in it, but I feel better.’”

Priest said the coalition’s intention is to begin a dialogue about their concerns without making them feel judged. Also to provide the information from trusted sources on the vaccine.