MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Black and Hispanic communities have already been hit hard by COVID-19. Now, doctors urge getting the flu vaccine to avoid another disproportionate impact.
“Relatives and friends they sometimes say, ‘Oh, you get it?’ I say, ‘Yes I do,'” Isabelle Everett said.READ MORE: London-Bound American Airlines Flight Returned To MIA After Passenger Refused To Wear A Mask
Everett is used to teaching people, she’s a retired teacher. She’s also a grandmother and celebrating 54 years of marriage this October.
“I’ve seen a lot of different progress,” she said.
For over 40 years, she’s lived in the Miami Gardens community. She’s glad to see some of the changes, like more jobs, especially for an area with a large black population. However, she says health access is just now catching up.
“There are people that distrust shots,” Everett explained.
She knows there’s a hesitancy, and Dr. Michelle Kirwan at the Center for Family and Child Enrichment, she’s heard it from patients.
“What I can tell you in my patient population is that it’s a hard sell, it’s hard to promote the flu vaccine,” Kirwan said.
Kirwan is the chief medical officer for the center. She told CBS4 the COVID-19 rates in Miami Gardens are high, like other black communities across the country, a delay in the flu shot could once again take another toll.
“What I can tell you in my patient population is that it’s a hard sell, it’s hard to promote the flu vaccine,”
To reduce barriers, the center has secured a grant that will help the surrounding community get the flu shot for free, they just need to convince people.READ MORE: COVID-19 Testing Site Finder
“Now more than ever, the flu vaccine is so important,” Dr. Kirwan explained.
Meanwhile, doctors at the national level are concerned.
“Historically 38% of Hispanics receive a flu shot, 40% overall of Blacks, and the number for Whites have been around the 50,” Dr. Willie Underwood said.
Underwood is chief executive director for the Buffalo Center for Health Equity and is an American Medical Association Board Trustee.
“Well the major concern here is this, we know Blacks are more likely to be hospitalized, if they get the flu, their risk of death are greater,” he said.
Dr. Leandris Liburd, the CDC associate director for the Office of Minority Health and Minority Equity, stressed the data.
“And the devastation that we’ve observed over the last year related to COVID and its disproportionately burdens in the same communities, it’s really essential, it’s even urgent that Black and Brown communities get vaccinated for the flu.”
In Miami Gardens, Dr. Kirwan is already working on outreach.
“What if they get flu and COVID?” she asked.
It’s better to get some level of protection. Meanwhile, people like Isabelle Everett share her own experience to let others know, it’s OK to get the vaccine.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 Vaccine Site Finder
“I do believe in the flu shot,” she added.