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Effort underway to get refugees vaccinated against COVID-19

Vaccine outreach to refugees
Posted at 9:11 AM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 10:11:59-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Appointments for COVID-19 vaccines are opening to the entire public and a group of people want to make sure the refugee population is not overlooked.

Around 30 refugee students at the Don Bosco School of English by Literacy KC were presented with information about the vaccine and why they should take it.

Community activist Abdulkadir Bakar and Dr. Sofia Khan teamed up for a presentation aimed at getting rid of hesitancy and skepticism around the vaccine.

"I know we didn't change everybody's mind," Khan said. "But even if we changed a few minds that they're going to continue this conversation, and at least think about it, you know, think of some of the things we said."

Khan works with KC for Refugees. The group helps people get resettled in the Kansas City community.

She is also a medical doctor and has seen first hand the deadly impact COVID-19 can have.

"You know when the virus takes hold of somebody's body, no matter what you do, you can't do nothing to save them," Khan said. "The only hope we saw, the light at the end of the tunnel was this vaccine."

Convincing the crowd the vaccine is safe is not easy.

Bakar works closely with Kansas City's refugee community and said there are many barriers to overcome

"An aspect of the communication and the aspect of the language and the aspect of and the negative information about the medicine itself," Bakar said.

Bakar added he has heard numerous false stories that fuel skepticism around the vaccine.

"They just want to create problem by giving us this medicine so that we may not have children," Bakar said. "That's one question that I got or we heard this medicine is meant for the blacks to die, you know?"

Those stories are also heard by staff at the Don Bosco School of English by Literacy KC.

"We had heard some of the misconceptions, misinformation going around, and we wanted our students to have the real deal. So, you know, we want our students to be as vaccinated as other populations to have any, any of the opportunities that we can offer," Literacy KC CEO Gillian Helm said.

Helm said at least 12 people out of the 30 in attendance for the outreach session plan to get the vaccine. Helm added there are plans to hold future vaccine education sessions

By bringing in Khan and Bakar, the hope is to bring a message the refugees can trust.

"We are trying to reduce the hurdles, as much as possible, so that as a community we excel together," Bakar said.