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Black Churches Fight Spread Of H1N1

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Dr. Boisey Barnes, the head of the Association of Black Cardiologists, says getting vaccinated should be a no-brainer.
David Schultz
Dr. Boisey Barnes, the head of the Association of Black Cardiologists, says getting vaccinated should be a no-brainer.

By David Schultz

Reverend Anthony Evans is telling his parishioners to give each other fist bumps rather than handshakes, not because they're cool, but because they spread fewer germs.

Rev. Evans is having a tougher time convincing his congregants to get the H1N1 vaccine. He says ever since the Tuskegee experiments, in which doctors conducted unethical medical studies on African Americans, many of them don't trust the government. "Tuskegee, as you well know, is burned in our memories," says Evans.

In a poll commissioned by the Greater Washington Board of Trade, only one-third of adults in D.C. say they plan to get vaccinated.

Speaking at Saint Stephens Baptist Church in Temple Hills, Md., the head of the Association of Black Cardiologists, Dr. Boisey Barnes, says one-third is unacceptably low. "This is a no-brainer," says Dr. Barnes. "This is the easiest thing to prevent. Just get your flu vaccines."

Evans is leading a nationwide coalition of black churches trying to increase vaccination rates.

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