KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Wyandotte County health officials are working to address vaccine hesitancy.
Just 17.3% of county residents are fully vaccinated and 26.6% of residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The current Kansas statewide rate is 37.8 % for people who have received at least one vaccine dose.
Wyandotte County churches are stepping in to help address hesitancy in the community.
Reverend Tony Carter Jr. at Salem Baptist Church is happy to use his influence on community members to educate them about the COVID-19 vaccine.
"When it’s appropriate to share the facts I try to share the facts, but for the most part I think people want to know that we really care about them and that’s what we’ve been trying to demonstrate," Carter Jr. said.
In a culturally diverse county, health leaders must work to build trust with people in minority populations.
Elizabeth Groenweghe, chief epidemiologist for the Unified Government Public Health Department, said the county is fighting misinformation about the vaccine.
The misinformation is often found on social media sites.
Groenweghe said there have been valid reasons for distrust from minority populations.
"Unfortunately, the medical community does have a history of mistreating certain races and ethnicities," Groenweghe said.
Wyandotte County resident Morgan Bradford said she's holding off on getting a vaccine.
"I’ve chosen to wait just because since it’s early on in the testing season and I just want to have more information before I know what’s going into my body," Bradford said.
Wyandotte County resident Cornelius Roberson received the vaccine, but understands others hesitancy.
"At first I was too, I felt that way at first, but when you go ahead and get it go ahead and believe the science, believe what they’ve been telling you about how well the vaccine is," Roberson said.
As health leaders continue to fight vaccine hesitancy, reaching herd immunity in every community continues to be the goal.
The county announced Tuesday that it is opening up eligibility at its mass vaccine clinics to everyone aged 16 and over, no matter where they live.
As the county opens the gates to its neighbors, Reverend Carter Jr. hopes his community will come together to reach a common goal.
"I think it’s got to be driven by our love for each other and our love for the communities where we’re living," Carter Jr. said.