CDC visits Albany to discuss vaccine hesitancy

CDC visits Albany to discuss vaccine hesitancy

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Members of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are spending the week in Dougherty County to do a Rapid Community Assessment. They’re speaking with people about how they feel about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Charles Ruis, Southwest Health District director, said after the coronavirus hit Albany so hard, current vaccine acceptance is not what he expected.

He said the CDC is here to determine specific reasons people are not getting the vaccine.

They’re asking for feedback from people in the community, churches, small businesses, and health care systems.

Dr. Ruis said the Department of Public Health requested this investigation.

Dr. Charles Ruis, Southwest Health District Director
Dr. Charles Ruis, Southwest Health District Director (Source: WALB)

“We are delighted to have experts come in and take a look at our community to come in and gives us an objective opinion. Because anything we can learn is going to help us. Knowledge is power. The more we know about reluctance to get the vaccine the more it will help us,” said Dr. Ruis.

Dr. Ruis said some people can’t travel to get a shot.

He said CDC members are also here to find out what information people know about the vaccine.

Dr. Neetu Abad with the CDC said some conversations with the community have been about vaccine safety, the trials the vaccines went under, and where people can get the vaccine.

Dr. Neetu Abad Behavioral Scientist with the CDC
Dr. Neetu Abad Behavioral Scientist with the CDC (Source: WALB)

“A lot of that is fairly complex and so we’re getting a lot of questions on what we do know about vaccine safety how do we know that the vaccines work, and who we recommend getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Abad.

Dr. Abad said they’re also finding people who don’t know where to get vaccinated. She said they are sharing this information with thier local partners.

“And talking to those who are doing mass vaccination sites mobile units these kinds of different ways of getting vaccines out to the community and understanding what does the community really how they feel about these different ways of getting the vaccine,” said Dr. Abad.

Dr. Monique Carry with the CDC said they are finding that people from Dougherty County want to make an educated decision.

She said when they got here, multiple people reached out wanting to talk.

Dr. Monique Carry, Behavioral Scientist with the CDC
Dr. Monique Carry, Behavioral Scientist with the CDC (Source: WALB)

“We’ve been able to talk to so many people from different levels around the community and we were super impressed with not only the turnout but the stories they had to share,” said Carry.

They said this helps them find strategies to get more people vaccinated.

Dr. Ruis said the fight against COVID-19 is not over.

“People are still getting sick. People are still getting hospitalized and throughout Georgia, people are still dying of COVID-19,” said Dr. Ruis.

He said the CDC coming here to help with strategies is one way they are trying to improve on getting more people vaccinated, but they need help.

“Our goal is to control this virus and the best way to do it is to get everyone vaccinated as soon as we can,” said Dr. Ruis.

He said the longer it takes for us to control the virus the more likely it is for more variants.

The CDC members are finishing up their assessments and will have something to present to public health next week.

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