Health and community leaders work to ease fears about vaccine in NW Florida


PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Community leaders and health experts are working to convince their neighbors to take the COVID-19 vaccine in Northwest Florida.

Many people are asking is it safe and has it been tested long enough. Community Health Northwest Florida is educating the public about the vaccine.

“Statistics show that the vaccine is very safe,” Family Nurse Practitioner Adare Burke said. “The side effects are overall very mild and let’s not forget that this vaccine was studied.”

Burke is trying to ease people’s fears about the vaccine saying it’s been through rigorous safety trials.
She gave Amy Cortez, a therapist, her second dose Friday. She’s included in the first phase of healthcare workers.

“We have to protect each other,” Cortez said.

She has no hesitation about getting the vaccine.

“Driving home actually from getting the first one was the most hopeful I’ve felt in a long time about getting to see my family and going to visit people,” Cortez said. “I haven’t seen my family in well over a year.”

Much of the pushback against the vaccine has been in minority communities.

“We must acknowledge that there are some communities that are more vulnerable than others particularly communities of color,” Chief Advocacy Officer Sandra Donaldson said. “They have long faced systemic health inequities.”

They vaccinated pastors in the community so that they can now spread the word of their congregation to have faith in science.

“That type of recognition and that type of support from their community leaders who are their pastors builds the relationship that we’re trying to connect with that particular group in getting them vaccinated,” Donaldson said.

Community Health Northwest Florida has vaccinated over 1,000 frontline workers and seniors. There have been a total of over 20,000 vaccinations in Escambia County. As always, they recommend you first talk to your doctor.

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