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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

1st Vaccine Walk-In Clinic Thursday As Worries Increase About Hesitancy In Black Communities

vaccination
Matt Rourke
/
AP

Hamilton County officials are encouraging people to get COVID-19 vaccinations despite the recent Janssen Johnson & Johnson pause. Commission Vice President Alicia Reece worries the pause will increase vaccine hesitancy, especially among African Americans.

"We had to do a lot of marketing, if you will, of the Johnson & Johnson shot because people thought it was inferior to the two-shot," she says. "We were just getting to a phase where people said 'OK, I'll give the one shot a shot.' Now, there may be some hesitancy out there."

About 20% of Black people in Hamilton County have had at least one dose of a vaccine. That compares with nearly 41% of white people.

Various health agencies are directing efforts toward Black and other minority communities to spread information and increase willingness to get vaccinated. The Center for Closing the Health Gap has multiple resources; a vaccination clinic is scheduled as part of a minority health month expo coming up in Washington Park; and the "Get out the Vax" campaign continues.

The Health Gap and the Cincinnati Medical Association also recently sent an open letter to the Black community, signed by more than 50 Black physicians with information about the vaccines.

"We want you to know that we have read the studies ourselves," the physicians write. "In fact, we had to make the same decision for ourselves and our families. In an effort to demonstrate our commitment to educating the community, some of us participated in the vaccine trials. We have also led by example and took our shot. We received the vaccine."

Walk-In Clinic Thursday, April 15

The health department is offering the Pfizer shot at its first walk-in clinic Thursday at the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

Reece says she'll get her first shot there as a show of support to encourage others who may be hesitant.

"As long as people keep seeing people they know get the shot, then it gives them more confidence to go ahead and get it," she says.

No appointments are necessary. The clinic is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It comes as Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman says there's plenty of available doses.

"We decided to do a walk-up clinic because clinics have been filling a little bit slower ironically just this week," he says. "Last week, every clinic filled - no issues. This week it took the better part of the last week to start filling this week, and we still had appointments available at this location and so we decided to offer a walk-up clinic as another tool in the toolbox to get folks vaccinated."

The Hamilton County Board of Elections is located at 2300 Wall Street, Cincinnati, 45212.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.