Local experts on the latest COVID-19 vaccine research gathered for a live forum on WXXI-TV and radio Thursday night. Those on the panel said they see reason for hope, but they also caution it will take some time for the community to build up immunity to the virus.
Researchers on the program from the University of Rochester Medical Center included Dr. Angela Branche, co–director of the URMC Vaccine Trials and Evaluation Unit. Branche talked about the challenge to get past the mistrust that some people in the Black community have regarding medical research, when the vaccine becomes more widely available.
“And we’re really going to have to work with our community partners, leaders and activists in the community who already have established trust with these groups that we’re talking about and partnering with them and giving them educational tools and helping them deliver the message is really what’s going to be the most effective,” Branche said.
Monroe County’s commissioner of Public Health, Dr. Michael Mendoza also sees a need to provide as much outreach and education to the community as possible about the vaccine. And he emphasized the need to continue following guidelines about wearing masks and physical distancing, because it will take a while to get most people inoculated.
“We have a vaccine on the ground, there are people who are getting the vaccine now, but the reality is that there is still so much time between now and when this is over.”
Mendoza said that right now he is concerned about the rapidly increasing numbers of people being hospitalized and how that could impact health care in general in the Finger Lakes region.