PA Health Discusses Vaccine Hesitancy among Minority Groups

Pennsylvania Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam joined leaders from St. Luke’s University Health Network and Rabiul Chowdhury from the Muslim Aid Initiative to talk about vaccine hesitancy among minority groups across the state, including in the Muslim community.

“As more vaccine is becoming available across the state, and more Pennsylvanians are becoming eligible, we know there are individuals who are hesitant to get it, or still have questions about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine — and that is okay,” Acting Secretary Beam said. “We are continuously working to provide information to the public about the COVID-19 vaccine to ensure everyone has the proper information to make a decision on their own. The vaccine is safe, effective and has gone through extensive clinical trials. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available, and vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.”

The vaccines that are available now have made it through extensive clinical trials to determine their safety and effectiveness. These trials were conducted according to the rigorous standards set by the federal government and will undergo intensive safety monitoring to continue to ensure the vaccines are safe.

“As the leading COVID vaccinator in central-eastern Pennsylvania, St. Luke’s University Health Network is proud to announce that it has administered its 200,000th vaccination,” Frank Ford, St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus President said. “Currently, the Network is vaccinating up to 4,000 people a day at 11 hospital-based sites across the greater Lehigh Valley. This approach makes getting the vaccine safe for anyone who experiences an adverse reaction, since each hospital is equipped with a fully-functional emergency department. St. Luke’s vaccination program, which runs seven days a week, has helped to make Lehigh and Northampton counties among the most vaccinated Pennsylvania counties with populations over 100,000.”

St. Luke’s has partnered with Lehigh Valley Muslim Community Activists, the Ortiz Ark Foundation, the Unidos Foundation, Promise Neighborhood of the Lehigh Valley and Lehigh on the Horizon along with many other community organizations such as churches, the Hispanic Center and the NAACP to reach other racial and ethnic minority populations and meet Pennsylvanians where they are.

The Muslim Aid Initiative has also done extensive work to help not only with vaccine hesitancy in the Muslim community, but to also distribute vaccine through a local vaccine clinic and help with other COVID-19 efforts throughout the pandemic, such as distributing Personal Protective Equipment to medical personnel and local residents, supplying and delivering groceries to the community, and proactively hosting events to mitigate the impact of the virus.

“We consistently serve all members of the local community, regardless of race, religion, or socioeconomic status,” Rabiul Chowdhury, founder of the Muslim Aid Initiative said. “In fact, at the onset of COVID-19, we focused on providing masks and gloves to the homeless, elderly, churches, temples, mosques, and other community centers. The purpose of the Muslim Aid Initiative is to disseminate accurate health information and resources to communities in the Greater Philadelphia Region. We are determined to keep our community strong and continue to protect the most vulnerable among us through education and service.”