DENVER (CBS4)– As the Delta variant of coronavirus surges in Colorado, some Black community leaders are using their voices to increase the vaccination rate among African Americans, many of whom are wary of the vaccine.

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According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 65% of whites in Colorado have received at least one shot while 52% of Blacks have.

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Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse is hoping to sway those who are hesitant with a new Public Service Announcement.

“This is our opportunity to move forward for our communities,” he says in the PSA that includes Maya Wheeler, Executive Director of the African Chamber of Commerce, Eula Adams, a prominent black businessman, and state Representative Leslie Herod and State Senator Janet Buckner.

Buckner says she understands the reluctance among some African Americans after the federal government ran deadly experiments on black men beginning in the 1930s, “However with this vaccine this time, we have more information. One of the lead doctors in developing the vaccine was a Black woman.”

“We want to lead by example,” says state Senator James Coleman who is also speaking out about the importance of getting vaccinated, “I myself had some reservations about getting vaccinated.”

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Coleman says he turned to a trusted Black doctor, “Now I can speak to it about the experience of having COVID-19 vaccine.”

But Herod says the vaccine shouldn’t be mandated, “It makes it feel like it’s a part of a government-type conspiracy and that’s concerning.”

She says the spread of the Delta variant is concerning, too, “We know our Black community will be disproportionately impacted by any surge of COVID.”

If you don’t do it for yourself, Buckner says, do it for others, “A couple of my granddaughters are too young to get the vaccine. So we’re hoping our voice make a difference.”

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Neguse is hoping to air the PSA on TV, in churches and in community centers. Not only are African Americans leery of the shot, so are Hispanics. Just 34% of that community has received a COVID-19 vaccination.

Shaun Boyd