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Bainbridge Juneteenth festival to combat COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

Posted at 7:35 PM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 19:35:24-04

BAINBRIDGE, Ga. (WTXL) — Betty Biggles and her family have been impacted by COVID-19; losing their brother Marcus in 2020.

"I'll tell you, it was devastating, it really was," Biggles said.

Now, Biggles is trying to help others in her small community of Bainbridge by trying to increase her county's vaccine rate, while also celebrating Juneteenth.

At their annual Juenteenth celebration, Biggles, friends and family members are inviting small minority owned businesses to set up shop in Biggles' front yard.

In the back, a vaccine clinic.

"Vaccinate more black people because we're having a time with it, especially the young people. We want everyone to be safe so since the pandemic came out, we've been working at it," Biggles said.

In Decatur County, around 48 percent of the black and brown population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; where as 54.6 percent of white people have gotten their first.

Biggles and co-organizer Walter Lang mention vaccine hesitancy as a reason they think the black and brown community is reluctant to get vaccinated. Their Juneteenth festival a tool in the fight against the hesitancy.

"It took on the black community, well it took at tool on all of us. Every time we do a fair, we put our health issues first and so we encourage the people why they're out to get the vaccine," Lang said.

Head of Student Health Services at Florida A&M University Tanya Tatum says they're also seeing that hesitancy.

"I hear it almost every day. I spoke with parents and students about getting vaccinated and there's some that are still choosing not to," Tatum said.

Tatum says although they don't keep track of racial demographics when it comes to vaccines, they've given out over 25,000 vaccines since it's become available.

She adds community organizations and families coming together to vaccine hesitancy, an important step in getting more vaccinated.

"I think taking time having conversations about it, answering questions, alleviating misunderstandings, is the best that we can do," Tatum said.

The Bainbridge Juneteenth festival will take place at 209 Whigham Road from 10 a.m. until around 2 p.m.

At Cascades Park in Tallahassee, their Juneteenth festival will run Saturday from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m.