UCSF Fresno COVID-19 Equity Project still aiming to reach underrepresented

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Seven days a week, the UCSF Fresno COVID-19 Equity Project holds a drive-thru vaccine clinic across from Fashion Fair Mall.

In line, we met Pedro Eal, who's getting his first dose of Pfizer.

"I'll be able to sleep better knowing that I'm vaccinated and I can go places now," he said.

The FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine Monday, removing a layer of concern about its safety for many.

"We've been hearing a lot of things, how everybody's saying not to get it, and get it," Eal said. "We're just going to go through with it."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data looks at attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccines by race.

Findings show 17 percent of white adults and 14 percent of black adults say they would "probably not" or definitely not" get a vaccine.

That's compared to 12 percent of Hispanic adults, and 2 percent of Asians.

"In certain communities of color, for instance, African American being probably the most common one that we discussed, is that we have years of institutional racism being built in and that includes in healthcare as well," says Dr. Kenny Banh.

On top of that, questions about the safety, efficacy, and side effects of vaccines, distrust in the government, and disinformation online also influence vaccine hesitancy.

"Unfortunately, there's a lot of people, the Facebook doctors out there that are just sort of catching onto things that don't really have evidentiary support," Dr. Banh said.

For some, political beliefs are stopping people from getting vaccinated.

"There are certain groups that are just flat-out vaccine-resistant," Dr. Banh said.

Medical experts say a lack of access also impacts vaccine rates.

The UCSF Fresno Mobile HeaL COVID-19 Equity Project hosts about 45 pop-up vaccine clinics a month in hard-to-reach/underrepresented communities.

"So a big job is not just coming to those areas and providing access but also doing education, working with communities, organizations and leadership who can kind of build trust in that community," Dr. Banh said.

Several people in line at the vaccine drive-thru clinic said they put off getting vaccinated until now because they worried about missing work.

UCSF Fresno Equity Project says they are talking with different organizations about putting paid worker policies into place to try to fix those access problems.
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