Pa. health department discusses vaccine hesitancy among minority groups


As of Wednesday morning, 2,073,705 Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated

COVID-19 Vaccine

Credit: Images By Tang Ming Tung/DigitalVision/Getty Images

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (WKBN) – Pennsylvania Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam joined leaders from St. Luke’s University Health Network and Rabiul Chowdhury from the Muslim Aid Initiative on Wednesday to talk about vaccine hesitancy among minority groups across the state, including in the Muslim community.

“As more vaccine is becoming available across the state, and more Pennsylvanians are becoming eligible, we know there are individuals who are hesitant to get it, or still have questions about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine — and that is okay,” Beam said. “We are continuously working to provide information to the public about the COVID-19 vaccine to ensure everyone has the proper information to make a decision on their own. The vaccine is safe, effective and has gone through extensive clinical trials. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available, and vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.”

The vaccines that are available now have made it through extensive clinical trials to determine their safety and effectiveness.

These trials were conducted according to the rigorous standards set by the federal government and will undergo intensive safety monitoring to continue to ensure the vaccines are safe.

All providers are directed to monitor patients for at least 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine to ensure supports are available in case of reaction.

St. Luke’s partnered with Lehigh Valley Muslim Community Activists, the Ortiz Ark Foundation, the Unidos Foundation, Promise Neighborhood of the Lehigh Valley and Lehigh on the Horizon along with many other community organizations such as churches, the Hispanic Center and the NAACP to reach other racial and ethnic minority populations and meet Pennsylvanians where they are.

The Muslim Aid Initiative has also worked to help not only with vaccine hesitancy in the Muslim community but to also distribute vaccines through a local clinic and help with other COVID-19 efforts throughout the pandemic.

These efforts include distributing PPE to medical personnel and local residents, supplying and delivering groceries to the community and proactively hosting events to mitigate the impact of the virus.

“We consistently serve all members of the local community, regardless of race, religion, or socioeconomic status,” Rabiul Chowdhury, founder of the Muslim Aid Initiative said. “In fact, at the onset of COVID-19, we focused on providing masks and gloves to the homeless, elderly, churches, temples, mosques and other community centers. The purpose of the Muslim Aid Initiative is to disseminate accurate health information and resources to communities in the Greater Philadelphia Region. We are determined to keep our community strong and continue to protect the most vulnerable among us through education and service.”

As of Wednesday morning, 2,073,705 Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated, with a seven-day moving average of more than 85,800 people per day receiving vaccinations.

The health department also reported a statewide total of 1,054,298 cases and 25,285 deaths attributed to COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

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