JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at A-State along with city and county officials will offer a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Saturday, March 6.
While that clinic will be open to everyone in the community who meets the guidelines, NYIT is also working hard to get the vaccine and resources to the BIPOC community.
BIPOC is an acronym for black, indigenous and people of color. BIPOC is also a population Dr. Brookshield Laurent, Chair for the Department of Clinical Medicine says has been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 virus.
Dr. Laurent says several factors play into why this has happened, especially since there hasn’t always been a good relationship between the BIPOC community when it comes to medicine and science.
From lack of transparency, human dignity, and advocacy for wellness, several stray away from getting professional help.
So when a virus like this comes along, stigma is already a challenge by also structural issues within the healthcare system and beyond.
“The stigma is there, it is present, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fault lines of the conditions of where we live, learn, work grow, play and pray. And these fault lines, really are the reasons, the core reasons why we’re seeing a disproportionate amount of black, indigenous and people of color who are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 virus,” Dr. Laurent said.
She says through their community engagement they have been connecting with local partners and community-based organizations to make sure resources like internet access are available.
“We actually have a community engagement arm, called the Delta Population Health Institute and that institute is committed to creating equitable communities of health through creating policies system and environment changes, and very broadly, we want to create cultures of health,” Dr. Laurent said.
Even with the mass clinic happening in about a week, they plan to also start mobilizing in those disproportionately affected areas, especially in rural communities.
Laurent also provided a top misconception she’s seen concerning the virus.
She says if you or someone you know becomes sick after receiving the vaccine, the misconception you were given COVID, is not true.
“What people are experiencing is their body, preparing their immune system so that if they’re exposed to the virus, the next time that they are, their bodies know exactly how to deal with it. And so, there have been some bodily responses, and for the most part, they have been mild,” Laurent said. “For some people, they have different experiences from fatigue or soreness in the arm. Some people might experience a low-grade fever, it doesn’t mean that they’re sick. What it means is that their immune system is doing drills. The body knows exactly what to do so you want that drill effect, you want your body to say, I’m ready to go the next time if I see COVID-19.”
Dr. Laurent says if you are questioning if you should potentially risk getting really sick from the vaccine compared to having multi-organ failure in the hospital because of COVID, which many people in the BIPOC communities do, you’re most likely to have the severe form of COVID where they end up in a hospital. She added if that’s the case there’s a higher chance of mortality or death.
Dr. Laurent says for those who feel like resources, testing and the vaccine is inaccessible, she encourages people to look at the Department of Health. She says to call your health care provider if you have one or even community-based organizations to get some direction about where to look.
“I don’t want people to get discouraged, you really have to try hard and make sure that everyone is well and taken care of,” Dr. Laurent said.