PALMETTO, Fla. — According to the State Department of Health, 54 percent of people in Manatee County, ages 12 and older, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’re very concerned about the variants and their spread around the world and therefore another reason for people to become vaccinated,” said Dr. Jennifer Bencie, County Health Officer for the Florida Department of Health in Manatee County.
Black community leaders say vaccine hesitancy and misinformation are major barriers.
“There is some truth to some of the hesitancy. We have the Tuskegee experiment that took place, so our community has that still fresh in their mouths especially with the baby boomers,” said Tarnisha Cliatt, President & CEO of Manasota Black Chamber of Commerce.
To build up vaccine confidence, the Florida Department of Health in Manatee County hired a vaccine hesitancy consultant to reach people who are having second thoughts.
“So, there’s a huge part of education but also is it going to facilitate the actual behavior change. Are you going to go out and now get the vaccination,” said Sabrina Korn Vaccine Hesitancy Consultant.
The DOH has also opened a new one-stop-shop for COVID-19 testing and vaccination at the Palmetto Bus Station.
The bus station sits in zip codes showing some of the lowest vaccine rates and the highest numbers of positive cases in the county.
Health officials said this new site along with businesses offering incentives will be progress toward ending the pandemic.