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Why Black women could play an important part in getting Mid-Southerners vaccinated for COVID-19

Local 24 is a proud sponsor of "Candid Conversations: COVID-19 Vaccines and Vaccinations Virtual Town Hall" Thursday, February 25th.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — UPDATE: This event has been postponed due to weather. It will now be held Thursday, February 25, 2021, from 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. CST.

Distrust about taking the COVID-19 vaccine runs deep in the Black community and especially among Black women. Local 24 News Weekend Anchor Katina Rankin unpacks why and how to move past it.

"I had some concerns because it seemed as if this, the vaccine came up so quickly," said Women United Chair TaJuan Stout Mitchell.

TaJuan Stout Mitchell is a former city council member, a retired public servant, and a Black woman. The 68-year-old admits that when the COVID-10 vaccine first came out, she and many other Black women in her circle were nervous about getting it.

"I know the history of our people, and I recognize that these fears are legitimate based on past experiences that were horrible," said Stout Mitchell.

The history - medical testing such as the Tuskegee syphilis study on Black men, which didn't provide them with treatment to cure the disease.

And for women, there was the case of Henrietta Lacks. Lacks' cancer cells were used for research, all done without Lacks or her family's permission.

Just two cases that have cultivated distrust in public health systems. But ER Physician Dr. Kimberly Brown said systems have now been put in place so that never happens again. And to ease people's minds in the community, she took the vaccine as a frontline worker and documented it to show it's safe.

"This is a safe way that we know of, right now, to make sure we don't get severe COVID-19. And I think it's just the best way to go about making sure that you don't get the virus than wearing masks and social distancing," said ER Physician Dr. Kimberly Brown.

However, according to a study by the Kaiser Foundation and The Undefeated, half of Black adults who participated in a survey still aren't planning to take the vaccine, even if it's free and scientists assure them it's safe.

Here's the problem. The coronavirus continues to threaten people of color the most, so convincing the Black community to get the vaccine is essential.

That's why Women United and United Way of Mid-South are holding a virtual event Thursday evening at Hope Church to calm fears and instill trust in the science behind the vaccine.

"The best way to expel some of the myths and fears is to have a dialogue with national experts, state experts and local experts to answer some of the questions based on science and based on facts," said Stout Mitchell.

Stout Mitchell said she overcame her fear of the vaccine based on the facts and now chairs Women United. Stout Mitchell said Black women must overcome their fear because women of color could be the key to the thought process turnaround in minority populations.

"Just like preparing a plan to vote that fell mostly on the shoulders of women, and this too keeping your families safe will fall on your shoulders," said Stout Mitchell.

Stout Mitchell said women can get their husbands or mates to take the vaccine, take their children to get vaccinated, and even convince family members not in their households to get inoculated.

"It is a shame to have resources at your disposal and not use them," said Stout Mitchell.

Local 24 is a proud sponsor of "Candid Conversations: COVID-19 Vaccines and Vaccinations Virtual Town Hall." It takes place on Thursday, February 25th from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. CT.

Learn more HERE.

United Way of the Mid-South's mission is to improve the quality of life for Mid-Southerners by mobilizing and aligning community resources to address priority issues. We strive to advance people from where they are to where they dream to be by addressing the building blocks for success--education, financial stability and health.