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'We do want the shot' | Access to COVID vaccine biggest hurdle for African Americans, not hesitancy Maryland resident says

Moneke Stevens is pushing back on the narrative that African Americans do not want to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — "Honestly, this segment was a slap in the face," Moneke Stevens wrote in an email to WUSA9 after watching an evening news clip Monday.  "We were stunned, appalled and crushed by the accusations that African Americans are not signing up for the COVID-19 vaccine in Prince George's County." 

The segment Stevens refers to was a report produced by WUSA 9, highlighting the hesitancy among some African Americans in getting the COVID-19 vaccine. A study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 35% of Black adults responded that they would probably not or definitely not get vaccinated, even if it was determined to be safe by scientists and available for free.

Stevens says this doesn’t tell the entire story. She explained while some African Americans are hesitant, many are simply running into issues trying to sign-up for an appointment to get vaccinated.

“When you hear national news, they’re saying African Americans are not taking the vaccine" she said. Why? In my particular case, we’re not able to register."

Stevens has been trying to get an appointment for her husband, a kidney transplant recipient, mother-in-law and sister-in-law for nearly a month.  

“We went to the state's website and the county's website," she said. "We were directed to pharmacies in our area who are administering the shot. The closet one is the Giant in District Heights. I used my laptop, my cellphone and my husband's phone, because I want to get the three of them registered. I sat there for 30 minutes in the virtual waiting room. After the 30 minutes were up, no more vaccines were available."

Stevens said she’s run into extended waits many times without a chance to sign up her relatives for an appointment.

“You sit there, and you wait and you hope that you can get an appointment but it’s not there,” Stevens said. 

Another Kaiser Family Foundation analysis also found that issues of equity, discrimination and access play a role in how vaccines are administered.

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