Black Men Engaged, Dougherty Co. leaders team up to fight vaccine hesitancy

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Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 7:23 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Vaccine hesitancy is an issue plaguing both the country and Dougherty County.

Albany’s very own Black Men Engaged is sparking an initiative in Dougherty County to get Black men vaccinated.

They hosted a turkey and ham giveaway with community leaders Wednesday in Driskell Park. Mike’s County Store donated 200 hams and 100 turkeys to the event.

Event organizers shared their hopes for people to get vaccinated and their own personal reasons why they changed their minds about getting vaccinated.

 Tosh Sevier is the deputy of the Black Men Engaged Canvassing Project.
Tosh Sevier is the deputy of the Black Men Engaged Canvassing Project.(WALB)

“I was extremely hesitant and when I started looking at the numbers, it seemed that I also felt that hesitancy. I wanted to address that and it was easy to make a decision because I made a decision that empowers my family. Make sure that I’ll be around,” said Tosh Sevier, deputy of the Black Men Engaged Canvassing Project.

Dougherty County District 5 Commissioner Gloria Gaines shared why she believed vaccine hesitancy is so strong in the community.

“The lack of knowledge, part myth. So, this project has some convincing to do and I think they’re geared up and ready to talk directly to young Black men and that is gonna be critically important to the wellbeing of the entire community,” said Gaines.

They want to reach a specific demographic for vaccinations.

Gloria Gaines is the District 5 commissioner for Dougherty County.
Gloria Gaines is the District 5 commissioner for Dougherty County.(WALB)

“The reason we’re here is to talk about vaccines and in particular, to talk about vaccines for young African-American males,“ said Gaines.

“(Getting) Black men, in particular, vaccinated because we’ve looked at the daunting numbers about how many people we’ve lost. Approaching 800,000 and we want to get this hard-to-reach demographic. Men already struggle with going to the doctor for usual things, so we’re really intensifying our campaign to really emphasize to men that this is something that is very important for the health and safety of your family but also the community at large,” said Sevier.

Some African-American and Latino people are less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19 than people in other racial and ethnic minority groups, according to the CDC.

“As omicron spreads it is terribly important that they get the message that it is good for their health and their wellbeing. There’s so much unknown about that variant but we do know that any variant of COVID is dangerous,” said Gaines.

“I’ve lost several friends,” said Sevier. “We’re so adamant about getting the word out there so that we don’t lose any other people,” said Sevier.

The vaccine effort is going to run through February. They plan to do some phone and text banking and canvassing door to door to get the word out on vaccinations.

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