The United States is getting closer to a vaccine for the coronavirus pandemic. But not everyone is on board with the idea of taking the inoculation. Black Americans are the least enthusiastic over a coronavirus vaccine. In fact, they are quite leery about the idea of accepting a vaccine until they feel it is safe.
A Pew Research Center poll conducted in September revealed how black Americans felt about the vaccination. The survey revealed:
“Black adults are much less likely to say they would get a vaccine than other Americans: Just 32% of Black adults say they would definitely or probably get a COVID-19 vaccine, compared with 52% of White adults, 56% of Hispanics and nearly three-quarters (72%) of Asian Americans. (Asian adults were interviewed in English only.)”
Last Thursday, former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton announced that they would take the vaccination to encourage Americans to feel safe. Obama attempted to speak to the concerns that many black Americans have about the vaccine.
“I understand, historically, everything dating back all the way to the Tuskegee experiments and so forth, why the African American community would have some skepticism,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is, is that vaccines are why we don’t have polio anymore. And they’re the reason why we don’t have a whole bunch of kids dying from measles and smallpox and diseases that used to decimate entire populations and communities.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also acknowledged concerns in the black community over the vaccination. In an appearance with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, she said, “I’m well aware of unfortunately the sad history of experimentation on African Americans and people of color, which is a legacy we’re still dealing with now and it’s manifesting itself into reluctance on the part of some to think about the vaccine.”
Joe Cunningham, an 85-year-old black man from Alabama told CNN why he does not favor taking the vaccine. “I don’t know, I don’t understand it,” he said. “I’d like to know where it’s coming from.”
Another study conducted by the COVID Collaborative, the NAACP, and UnidosUS found that only 14% of black Americans believe that a vaccine would be safe. Only 18% trust that it will even be effective.
A black father named Gordon who lives near Chicago said he is worried that the vaccine is being rushed. “I would rather not try to pivot toward a vaccine that frankly is not quite proven,” he said. “If this vaccine is proven effective after it’s been released more broadly to people, then we can certainly value it and I might change my perspective.”
Ernest Grant, the president of the American Nurses Association, participated in a trial hoping that it might assuage fears among black Americans about taking the vaccine.
“Although the trial is double-blinded, meaning researchers and participants don’t know who is actually getting the real vaccine or the placebo, Grant said he is confident the vaccine is safe. He recommends other Black leaders take the vaccine so they can share their experience and knowledge with the community.”
Grant stated that he believes the vaccine will be safe after having gone through the trial. “I feel confident that once it is released to the public there should not be hesitancy about taking the vaccine,” he said. “At some point there’s always that potential that it (Covid-19) could happen to you and if I know there is a cure that could potentially save me from that, I think I would go for the cure.”
However, history seems to be having an impact on black Americans’ attitudes towards the injection. The Tuskegee experiments, a government study which took place between 1932 and 1972 tracked black men who had syphilis and refused to treat them for the disease because they wanted to monitor the progression of the disease.
But black physicians are participating in the effort to make black Americans feel safe about taking the vaccine. CNN reported, “Last month, the Black Coalition Against COVID published a “Love Letter to Back America” signed by eight prominent Black doctors that encouraged Black people to participate in the vaccine trials and take the vaccine once it is proven safe.”
Moderna recently announced that it was applying to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of its vaccination. Pfizer submitted its application on Nov. 20.
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