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COVID testing, vaccination hesitancy declines in East Oakland

Bay Area

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — COVID-19 rates continue to be disproportionately higher in communities of color.

In the African-American community, the lack of trust in vaccines remains a lingering issue.

Historic incidents involving the federal government are largely to blame. However, the director of COVID-19 pop-up clinics in East Oakland says negative perceptions about vaccines are starting to change.

COVID-19 testing and vaccination hesitancy is on the decline in East Oakland.

“And that really made me so happy because the narrative that is being told about us is we don’t want the shot and that we’re hesitant,” Dr. Kim Rhoads said.

The Associate Director of Community Engagement of UCSF’s Cancer Center, Dr. Kim Rhoads, is also the director of Umoja Health. A collective of close to 30 organizations is working together to address COVID by setting up pop-up clinics in communities disproportionately impacted by the virus in the Bay Area.

Dr. Rhodes says if you want to reduce vaccine hesitancy in East Oakland — location is everything.

“We did testing in the liquor store parking lot because the idea is to flip the model. Instead of asking people who are unlikely to come to us, to come to us, we are saying can we bring it to you,” she said. “Started specifically with a focus on the  African-American community in zip codes 94603, 605 and, 621. So, East Oakland.”

She says a key indicator is the percentage of first time testers is decreasing now compared to back in September when the pop-up first started.

“60% of them were first-time testers,” Dr. Rhoads said. “What we are noticing now our latest data is that only 40% are first-time testers. So people are sort of getting used to it.”

This weekend, Umoja Health is holding a pair of pop up COVID-19 clinics for vaccine eligible East Oakland residents. Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the center of hope church 8411 MacArthur Blvd. Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Eritrean Orthodox Church on 780 54th street.

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