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'It does help when people hear from others who look like them' | Novant Health doctors promote importance of COVID-19 vaccine

As vaccinations continue, doctors are aware that some communities can be hesitant to get vaccinated.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — As vaccinations continue, doctors are aware that some people are hesitant to get vaccinated, most notably, African Americans.

To help alleviate some of that concern, Black Novant Health doctors publicly got the vaccine Friday afternoon. 

WFMY News 2 spoke with Dr. Jaleema Speaks, Dr. John Card, and Dr. Pam Oliver, after all three got the first dose of the vaccine. They said, each had their doubts months ago that a vaccine could be ready so quickly. However, after carefully reviewing the evidence, data, and science - they have full confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine - and wanted to make it clear for all to see. 

"It seemed like a silver lining after a very long and dark storm," said Dr. Speaks. 

All three doctors understand - there's still some skepticism surrounding the vaccine - and new vaccines in general. 

"There is no question that there is a disturbing history that we are not proud of when it comes to institutions in general, and even the medical community, with respect to prior acts that have caused the African American community and communities of color to really question systems," said Dr. Oliver. 

She said, these concerns are valid and the fear can be real.

"I understand that hesitancy [about the COVID-19 vaccine]. And, we all said the same to our teams at the beginning. We said, we’ll see. And we saw. We saw amazing things happen," she said.

She and her colleagues hope to spread a message of trust and safety, leading by example. 

"It's not an automatic trust - but it does help when people hear from others who look like them," Dr. Oliver said, "The risk of dying from this vaccine - I would never say zero - but it is miniscule compared to the risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19."

"The leading experts in the world, and the leading companies in the world are all dedicated to get this right," said Dr. Speaks. 

"Whenever I am advising [patients] about a certain therapy or vaccination, I try to give them the insight of - this is something that I would also do," said Dr. Card, "I think that helps to build confidence in our patients."

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