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HudsonAlpha, educators share impact of COVID-19, vaccine on minority groups

HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology hosted a roundtable discussion 'A Path Forward', about the impacts the virus has on communities of color.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The percentage of people of color getting the vaccine still lags way behind where it should be. HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, and academic leaders are teaming up in hopes to bring more awareness of the virus.

Our WZDX News reporter has a look at some of the impacts.

"We suffer disproportionately from a number of predisposing illnesses including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity," says Alabama A & M University Dept. of Social Work, Psychology, & Counseling Chairperson and Professor, Dr. Tonya Perry, PhD.

RELATED: ADPH data shows racial disparities in COVID vaccine rollout

Leaders say COVID-19 adds on to the list of underlying conditions that impact minority groups.

Dr. Neil Lamb Vice President for Educational Outreach with HudsonAlpha says people with underlying conditions have asked if vitamin supplements would ease symptoms for someone infected by the virus.

"You need a fairly large study to be able to do that. So I've seen a handful of small studies that have said 'yes, this is effective', and I've seen an equal number of studies that say 'no, it is not effective'," he says.

RELATED: Leaders share plight of racial health disparities, an issue Dr. King stood against

Lamb believes more research should be done to answer those questions. "We just need much larger, well done studies but it isn't something that people are willing to fund," he says.

In addition to taking the vaccine, access to it is reveals a minority mistrust in medicine.

Here's an example leaders share:

"I'm over 65, and Black and it seems like whenever I call or go, they say I can't get it. My White friend was able to get hers the next day," says HudsonAlpha Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, Dr. Ezell Darrell, PhD.

Meanwhile, leaders say in certain parts of Alabama vaccination rates in minority groups are doing well. "All the groups in Birmingham had done extremely well with African American groups, better in fact than any other city in the United States," says HudsonAlpha President & Science Director, Dr. Rick Myers,PhD.

Myers says he can't determine exactly why some areas do well with vaccinations than others, but says it's important to get the majority of the population immune to the virus.

"We need to get everybody vaccinated. We need to do as much as we possibly can to get herd immunity," says Myers.

HudsonAlpha will host another roundtable discussion March 9th. 

To see the part one, click here.