Community Conversation: Doctor speaks on COVID-19 and the vaccine’s impact on the Black community
Dr. Jerome Williams works for Novant Health. He has more than 10 years of experience as a cardiologist
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - COVID-19 numbers are going down in North Carolina but there is still cause for concern when it comes to the African American population and getting the vaccine.
North Carolina Health officials say so far only about 40 percent of Blacks have been vaccinated in North Carolina.
Dr. Jerome Williams works for Novant Health. He has more than 10 years of experience as a cardiologist. He walks the hospital hallways and in this conversation, he shares what he sees.
“When you look at those individuals that are currently hospitalized,” Dr. Williams said. “Whether it be Novant Health or any other healthcare facility - the vast majority - over 90% are unvaccinated - unvaccinated individuals. If you look at the intensive care unit and the usage of ventilators - it’s closer to 100% of those individuals who are on those ventilators are unvaccinated. So that’s why we use the term this is now a disease of the unvaccinated.”
He is concerned about the hospitalizations and deaths because of COVID-19.
“We would have reduced hospitalizations,” Williams said. “We would have reduced deaths if we had more of the population vaccinated. And so that’s why there is a concerted effort across the country and the county to ensure people are receiving the correct information - accurate information and really meeting them where they are in hopes they will get vaccinated in hopes not only to protect themselves but their families and the communities they engage.”
Williams talks to patients who would rather believe misinformation about the vaccine instead of the truth about what the vaccine can do.
“We can’t be judgemental right,” he said. “We all come from different walks of life. We walk a variety of different shoes. One thing I learned in practice and personally and we see it all throughout Novant is - you can’t judge an individual not knowing what their journey has been. What their life experiences have been. It doesn’t make it right or wrong but you just have to understand that because if you don’t at least attempt to understand it - then you are already going down the wrong pathway of connectivity with that individual.”
The doctor says he doesn’t get frustrated when he hears patients repeating misinformation or simply refusing to get vaccinated. He says that just makes him more persistent to get the right information out there.
“Once again I go back to Pre-Covid,” Williams said. “I’ll tell them they are having a heart attack - the risk factors include smoking and diabetes and lack of exercise - overeating, and obesity and they will be in denial as well.”
Williams says he will continue to reach out to people to inform them about COVID-19 and the vaccine.
He wants to let people know the vaccine is important and remind them people not fully vaccinated are more than 18 times more likely to die from COVID than a person who is vaccinated.
Williams says the conversation about COVID and healthcare with African Americans continues.
“We are going to be there when COVID is gone,” Wiliams said. “Because we still have heart disease. We still have disparities in strokes. We still have disparities in infant mortality. We have a disparity of racial and ethnic disparity all across the spectrum.”
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