“Our lives are at stake:” TSU public well being skilled requires vaccinations amid spike in COVID-19 circumstances

Posted: Aug 13, 2021 / 10:23 AM CDT
Updated: 8/13/2021 / 10:27 AM CDT

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WKRN) – A public health expert at one of Tennessee’s historically black colleges and universities is working to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine as Delta variant cases rise across the country multiply.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, 30.8% of the black population have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Nationwide, 46.4% of all Tennesseers fall into this category.

Many people expressed concern about the safety of the vaccine, but Dr. Wendelyn Inman, director of Tennessee State University’s preliminary public health program, said this was not surprising.

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“If we look at public health history, every time we find a new way to treat something – prevention is our middle name, a new prevention technique, or a source of prevention – we have resistance,” said Dr. Inman. “The second reason is that my great-uncle Gus was in the Tuskegee study. In my community, especially in my family, there is such a widespread reluctance to participate in anything new because we fear that we are specifically targeting negative outcomes. “

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the USPHS syphilis study in Tuskegee in 1932 initially included 600 black men – 399 with syphilis, 201 without the disease. The men’s informed consent was not obtained and is one of the reasons for the distrust within the black community. The CDC reports that 25% of all US vaccinations went to black people.

“I would love to see everyone vaccinated because every time we are vaccinated we are helping to save someone else’s life,” said Dr. Inman. “It’s not just our own protection, we protect others.”

Despite her own family history, she encourages people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, saying that those standing by the fence should ask their doctor or other vaccine recipient what to expect.

“Our public health program now has a bachelor’s degree, we have graduate and undergraduate students. And our students serve as advocates for their communities, for their homes, for their dormitories, for their churches, for their workplace and their venue, ”she said. “And they are questioned all the time, and we have students who refuse to be vaccinated and their classmates are probably the biggest advocates.”

She said the delta variant is of particular concern for those who are not vaccinated.

“Our lives are at stake, the lives of people we love, the lives of people who haven’t been vaccinated. The variant is transferable. They can get sicker, stay in the hospital, be in the hospital longer, have longer after-effects, and also have a higher percentage of deaths, ”said Dr. Inman. “They have a higher percentage of hospitalizations. The cost of the intensive care unit is extreme: $ 100,000 plus, you also have the option to give your money to the undertaker. The intensive care units are filling up and the undertaker earns a lot of money with the dying. “

It also has a message for people who have attended public schools and have had to be vaccinated in the past few years.

“I want to remind her that when you went to public school you were fully vaccinated and those vaccinations are still keeping you alive today,” she said. “You didn’t die from your measles, mumps, and rubella. You did not die from your polio shot. We eliminated smallpox so you know your children don’t even have to get a smallpox vaccination. The vaccination works. But once you have made that choice you should be sure that what you have chosen will work because we are sure that the vaccination will work. “

She looks at history when she educates people about the new vaccine.

“We learned from our story in the Tuskegee study. We learned from our history in research into cancer. We learned from our history about smallpox, ”she said. “People drive cars where people used to picket and say, ‘get the horseless carriage off the street.’ People didn’t buckle their seat belts until highway police officers across the country told us, “We don’t pull bodies out of cars that are buckled up, people are buckled up.” We have information and evidence that what we recommend works. “

The Metro Public Health Department regularly posts Nashville vaccination events on its Facebook page.

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