MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) said those in minority groups are less likely to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and are on the fence about getting it.

“We fully understand why our black and African American communities are hesitant to get their shot. We’re told historical events in our country are the foundation of why these communities distrust these current vaccines,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, the Interim Director of Public Health for DHEC said.

According to DHEC’s vaccine distribution tracker, 23,206 Asian Americans have received a vaccine in South Carolina. 242,477 thousand Black Americans have received it and 38,656 Hispanic and Latino South Carolinians have received it.

Dr. Kimberly Brown, an emergency room physician based out of Memphis, Tennessee said this is partially due to what happened in Tuskegee, Alabama years ago.

“The Tuskegee experiment happened back in Tuskegee, Alabama where there were patients who had syphilis where the government knew they had syphilis but did not give them a treatment for it although it was widely available and very easily secured,” Brown said.

She added, “I think that people are thinking that the government is trying to experiment on us like Tuskegee but it’s not just us that’s something being experimented on. This is something that’s wildly available for all Americans. We know that it’s safe and we know that it’s effective.”

Traxler and Brown said there is a lot of skepticism about the vaccine and that the government is using it to track people or that it’s unsafe. They said all of that is untrue.

“These covid vaccines are safe and have been both rigorously and ethically tested by scientists, doctors, and medical researchers,” Traxler said.

Brown said she hopes that more minorities do choose to get the vaccine saying, “we are typically the ones that are on the front lines that we’re doing jobs where we can’t work from home for.”

Brown continued to say that, “We have to go out and we have to interact with the public or we know someone that does so if we’re the ones on the front lines and going to be the ones that are the most at risk for possibly getting the virus.”

DHEC said they’re asking for the public’s help in completing a community pulse survey on COVID-19 Vaccines.

The deadline for the survey is Friday.