West Philadelphia doctor gets COVID-19 vaccine to inspire communities of color

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As officials work to speed up the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, some, particularly people in communities of color, have expressed a level of fear and distrust.

At the Spectrum Community Health Center in West Philadelphia, doctors rolled up their own sleeves to get vaccinated and dispel any hesitation this neighborhood might have.

"They're going to see that I'm getting the vaccine, from the community that they're in. And so, I feel that exposure, education, and just dispelling any myths is the way to go," said Dr. Aqiyla Muhammad, the Chief Medical Officer at Spectrum.

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As the new coronavirus variant spreads in the United Kingdom, health officials abroad have decided to extend the time between doses in order to vaccinate more people, more quickly. Now, doctors in the U.S. are discussing this, but not everyone agrees.

Muhammad was born and raised in West Philadelphia, and this is personal for her.

Spectrum's three health centers have been in the community for over 50 years and through this pandemic, they've served everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

"We've been testing people with our testing sites outside of our health center since March when this pandemic first hit. People believe that we care about them. The vaccine is safe. It is imperative that we consider vaccinating as many people in the community as possible," said Veronica Hill-Milbourne, president and CEO of Spectrum Health Services.

Spectrum began vaccinating for COVID-19 Tuesday with its own employees. They have about 5,500 signed up for the first wave and they're encouraging their patients and neighbors to join them.

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Dr. Yvette Gbemudu was first in line to receive the shot.

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