Guilford County health officials, as well as state health officials, are concerned about vaccination hesitancy in the African-American community.

One strategy being used to combat that resistance to the current COVID-19 vaccines is by making it well known when prominent black leaders get their shot. This week, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston let it be known that he’d gotten his.

On Friday, March 5, when Rev. William Barber, II – a prominent black leader in the state – received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the NC Department of Health and Human Services put out a statewide press release announcing that fact – no doubt in the hopes that it would reduce the level of vaccine resistance in the African-American community.

Alston said this week, after getting his vaccination at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Greensboro, that the reluctance in the African-American community is real, and he hopes that his getting the shot will encourage others to do so.

“Due to past history – things like the Tuskegee experiments – there is skepticism about government when it comes to medicine,” Alston said.

There are other segments of American society that have concerns about these COVID-19 vaccines and vaccinations in general.  Even Alston said he wanted to wait until at least one million people got it before getting vaccinated.

“After a million people were vaccinated and seemed OK, I said, well, it’s safe,” Alston said.

Alston is 63 years old and, when Alston got his shot, the age limit in North Carolina to qualify for the vaccine was 65 and up, unless someone was in a special subcategory – like health care worker or school teacher, etc.

When asked about that, he pointed out that “elected officials,” regardless of age, were a group that also qualified under the current guidelines.

“I didn’t jump the line,” Alston said, joking that he knew, if he did, that would be the main news story.