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Baptist Health doctor helping Lexington area minority groups with vaccine concerns

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 5:58 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Fears surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine are hitting close to home, affecting not only African American patients, but doctors too.

Dr. Jai Gilliam says he was hesitant to get the vaccine at first.

“There’s been history such as the polio vaccine, seasonal influenza vaccine in the 70s, when we rush vaccines, there have been some dark chapters and complications that have arose,” said Dr. Gilliam with Baptist Health Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.

But after reviewing the research, Dr. Gilliam believes the vaccine is safe. It’s what encouraged him to go ahead and get the injections.

“I have had family, friends, and colleagues die of COVID-19,” Dr. Gilliam said.

To save lives, Dr. Gilliam is encouraging others to get vaccinated. Rev. Dr. Jim Thurman was skeptical at first, recalling a long history of racism in medicine.

“Probably the most notable is the syphilis experiments they had down in Tuskegee, probably lesser known is experiments they did on Henrietta Lacks,” Rev. Thurman said.

Thurman rejected the COVID-19 vaccine twice. It took him a lot of soul searching to finally get the shots, but he’s now encouraging members of his church to do the same.

“There’s a greater mortality rate among African Americans because we have so many undying conditions- high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, etc. So I think this vaccine, it is imperative that we do in fact take it,” Rev. Thurman said.

The University of Kentucky is partnering with churches to set up vaccine clinics in minority communities. A mobile vaccine clinic is happening Saturday at First Baptist Church Bracktown.

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