Patrick Leading Panel on Low Vaccinations in Communities of Color

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Former Gov. Deval Patrick will lead a virtual panel of local health professionals on Tuesday to address the low numbers of COVID-19 vaccinations in the state's communities of color. 
 
The novel coronavirus is disproportionately affecting Black and Hispanic people. Long-standing structural health and social inequities have increased the risks of sickness and death, which coupled with historic and systemic issues of maltreatment, have created an environment of mistrust with the vaccine process. According to the latest report by state Department of Public Health, only 3.3 percent of Hispanic or Latinx residents, 2.8 percent of Asian American and Pacific islanders, and 2.6 percent of Black residents make up those who have been vaccinated across the commonwealth.
 
To help build vaccine trust, which is critical to protecting lives and ending the pandemic, several organizations have joined together to provide a dedicated space for communities of color to learn, ask questions, and share concerns about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
 
"It is important to acknowledge that there is distrust in health care and the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines by people of color," Dr. Adrian Elliot of Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington said. "We have to understand why people have the perspectives they have. This is an urgent moment for us to listen, answer questions, and build trust in the medical system."
 
Patrick will lead the health-care and cultural competency professionals who will brief the audience on the safety of the vaccines and address the treatment of minorities in U.S. medical history. Panelists include Elliot, chief of emergency medicine at Fairview; Eden-Renee Hayes, director of the Davis Center at Williams College, and Rosa Tobango, a licensed practical nurse at Laurel Lake Nursing Home in Lee.  
 
There will be time for questions from the audience.
 
The free virtual event will take place Tuesday, Feb. 23, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Spanish and American Sign Language interpretation will be available. Registration is required here.
 
The event is co-sponsored by NAACP Berkshire Chapter, Berkshire Health Systems, Berkshire Immigrant Center, Berkshire Pride and Community Health Programs.

Tags: COVID-19,   


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Berkshires Gets Limited Vaccine Doses; Named 'High-Efficiency Collaborative'

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — COVID-19 vaccine shipments expected early last week were delayed because of inclement weather and were smaller than expected, leaving Berkshire County shorthanded. And a "very limited" amount of vaccines was available for appointment first-dose slots on Wednesday.  
 
"This week, Massachusetts received 139,000 doses," Mayor Linda Tyer said to the City Council on Tuesday. "That's it, we have a million potential new residents who are eligible, but for the week we received 139,000 doses."
 
Public Health Program Manager Laura Kittross said there is limited access everywhere and doesn't expect this to be an ongoing issue.  She hopes to see additional vaccine allocations later this week and is "certainly hopeful for next week."
 
On Thursday, there were very limited first-dose clinic at Berkshire Community College from 2 to 5 with 300 appointments available to eligible individuals. The North Adams and Great Barrington vaccination sites will also hold first-dose clinics on Thursday, offering 250 doses each. All of those were gone by late afternoon on Wednesday.
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