PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues to ramp up, the Coalition of Communities of Color is focused on equity. Friday night, leaders met with health experts to discuss the barriers to getting shots in the arms of people in the BIPOC community.

Among those barriers are misinformation and mistrust.

“Misinformation is by far way more detrimental to solving the issues around the pandemic than virus itself,” Dr. Joelle Simpson of Children’s National Hospital said.

“Worried about possible side effects and not trusting the government to make sure the vaccine is safe and effective,” said Dr. Tress Goodwin, also with Children’s National Hospital.

Marcus Mundy, the executive director of the Coalition of Communities of Color, said they’re keenly aware of the disproportionate impact the coronavirus has on people of color.

“Health outcomes show that we are more likely to have the underlying conditions that increase the morbidity of this virus,” Mundy said.

The panel experts cited a recent survey that asked people if they would take a free vaccine if scientists deemed it were safe. It showed 62% of Black respondents said they would definitely or probably get the vaccine compared to 71-73% for Hispanic or white respondents.

“We really need to target the groups that are most skeptical,” Goodwin said.

Meantime, the Multnomah County Director of Public Health Jessica Guernsey said they’ve also tried to address equity in the first wave of vaccines for health care workers.

“We’ve prioritized different groups to make sure we are focusing on equity. That would include things like working with community health associations, medical interpreters, medical transportation wrokers, so not just clinicians and folks in the hospital settings,” Guernsey said.

She said they’re also looking at equity in the next vaccination wave of educators and child care providers and how to help those that can’t travel to the larger clinics.