Breaking News
More () »

'The vaccine is safe.' Bridging the healthcare system and COVID-19 vaccine with the Black community

'I am more afraid of COVID than I am of the vaccine. I’ve seen what it can to do to our people.'

CLEVELAND — When it comes to vaccinating the population, it's important that the vaccine is effective for everyone. But since the 1930s during the Tuskegee syphilis study where Blacks were treated like guinea pigs, physicians still face an uphill battle convincing African Americans to get vaccinated -- despite how important it is.

"All the rigorous steps were taken to bring this vaccine to market."

Those are the words of Dr. Carla Harwell regarding the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. She’s the medical director at University Hospitals Otis Moss Jr. Health Center.

RELATED: Faith leaders from Northeast Ohio join together urging others to get COVID-19 vaccine

"I know that Black people remember the Tuskegee experiment,” Dr. Harwell says. “They remember how the government withheld treatment from these men. But now we have so many mechanisms in place to make sure that those things don’t happen.”

Dr. Harwell says she knows first-hand how difficult it can be to convince minorities to get the vaccine.

"I just hope that people understand that right now it’s the best shot that we have. Like I said earlier, I am more afraid of COVID than I am of the vaccine. I’ve seen what it can to do to our people.”

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccines in Ohio: How you can make an appointment at a store near you

According to the CDC, Black Americans across the United States are 1.4 times more likely to contract COVID-19, and 2.8 times more likely to die of it than white Americans. A shocking static that many healthcare workers hope to change.

"Because we’re in this pandemic, yes, things were pushed through, but corners were not cut. The vaccine is safe. It’s all we have right now and that’s what I tell my patients."

Dr. Harwell says to find a source you can trust.

"Follow the facts and then find a trusted voice, someone that you feel comfortable with that’s going to give you the correct information and help guide you through this process."

RELATED: The Power of Healing: Vaccine brings hope and relief to recipients

SUBSCRIBE: Get the day's top headlines sent to your inbox each weekday morning with the free 3News to GO! newsletter

Before You Leave, Check This Out