TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — In their latest attempt to combat vaccine hesitancy in black communities, the Leon County Covid-19 Vaccination Task Force invited medical leaders to discuss the toll the virus takes on the young community members we expect to leave the future to.
"When I look at the future, if we can non change this, there is the possibility that we will continue to be disproportionately affected by COVID 19," said FAMU professor of epidemiology Dr. C. Perry Brown.
Brown points out how vaccine hesitancy in adults puts children at greater risk of contraction.
"All of our youth from 0 to 11 are at risk because they cannot be vaccinated," Brown says. "So one potential avenue of exposure would be unvaccinated adults."
Unvaccinated adults may be more likely to die due to the virus, causing an even more startling trend among young black children.
"Black youth make up 14 percent of the population, 14 percent," Brown emphasizes. "Black kids make up 20 percent of children who have lost a parent to COVID."
Parent and community activist Talethia Edward says she's vaccinated, but concerned about how unvaccinated interactions affect her youngest children.
"I worry about my children who are not able to get vaccinated," says Edwards. "So I have 3 who are old enough to be vaccinated and who are all vaccinated and then of course that leaves 5 who are under the age that cannot be vaccinated. And my husband's a school teacher, which complicates a lot of it."
School Board Member Darryl Jones moderated the discussion, and wants parents to play an active role in COVID-19 prevention.
"What this conversation is about is how do we move from fear to action," Jones says.
Dr. Brown says some of that action is part of parental responsibility.
"One of the requirements of being a parent is to protect your child," says Brown. "My advice relative to COVID would be number one, please get vaccinated."
Participants also discussed COVID's impacts on learning loss and stunted social emotional development.