Skepticism over COVID-19 Vaccine Among the Black Community

For months, the Trump administration has been working with scientists to create a vaccine that will make the human body immune to the coronavirus. The first people to receive the vaccine are high-risk health care workers. 

The Trump administration scrambled to make up for lost time after a halting start and is rushing to roll out a $250 million public education campaign to encourage Americans to take the coronavirus vaccine. 

Federal officials acknowledge the effort will be a complicated one. “It must compete with public doubt and mistrust of government programs amid deep political divisions created in part by a president who has spent much of the year belittling government scientists, promoting ineffective treatments and dismissing the seriousness of the pandemic — and is now rushing to claim credit for a vaccine that he has made a priority,” said The Washington Post

The first shots were given in the American mass vaccination campaign on Monday, December 14th, 2020. Despite the toll the pandemic has taken on minorities, they are very hesitant to take the vaccine. Many stories have come about where people took the vaccine and experienced symptoms including severe allergic reactions. 

A nurse at Chi Memorial in Chattanooga Tennessee passed out on live TV after taking the COVID-19 vaccine and answered questions on how safe it is. About 17 minutes after receiving the shot, the woman apologizes saying that she’s ”feeling a little dizzy” amidst her public interview. She rubbed her forehead while swaying to one side then collapsed to the ground where doctors rushed to her rescue. She later reported to news reporters that she has a condition that causes her to pass out when she feels pain. “The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention says it has received reports of people fainting after nearly all vaccines, and scientists believe it is due to pain or anxiety associated with the vaccination process,” AP News reported.

In the United Kingdom, two people had an allergic reaction to the COVID vaccine. Those reactions caused the UK government to issue a warning to all people with a history of allergic reactions. They stated that “anyone with a history of anaphylaxis (a serious allergic reaction) to a vaccine, medicine or food should not receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.” 

After discussing whether they would get the vaccine, several FAU students’ ultimate reply was no. 

“NO, we’re [Stewart’s family] not getting it” said Brittany Phillips-Stewart, an FAU student. 

One student was not sure on her opinion since she had no detailed information about the vaccine.

“I don’t know enough to form an opinion yet,” says sophomore, Quiara Green.

Many students expressed that their uneasiness lies with the fact that the vaccine was produced so fast. 

“They still don’t even know where it comes from, so how can you make a [correct] vaccine for something and you don’t know [its origin]?,” said FAU student Kourtney Nicole. 

On the counterpoint, New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, believes that this vaccine is the answer to freedom.

“I believe this is the weapon that will end the war,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said the morning of December 14th, shortly before the shot was given to Sandra Lindsay, a Black Jamaican-born nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. 

State officials said the shot was the first to be given outside of a vaccine trial in the United States. Ms. Lindsay, who has treated patients throughout the pandemic, said that she hoped her public vaccination would instill confidence that the shots were safe. 

“I have seen the alternative, and do not want it for you. I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history”, said Lindsay.

She emphasized the symbolic importance that she was the first American to receive the vaccine — as a Black woman, she is among the demographic most disproportionately devastated by COVID-19. 

African-Americans have long been subjected to unethical medical research, raising some concern that they may be more hesitant to take the vaccine. “I want people who look like me and are associated with me to know it’s safe,” she said. “Use me as an example. I would not steer the public wrong.”

In an interview with MSNBC on Monday, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, laid out a timeline for a return to normalcy that went well into 2021. He stressed that until then, social distancing and masks will remain crucial in the fight to stop the spread of the virus. 

He predicted that the average person with no underlying conditions would get the vaccine by the end of March or beginning of April next year. If the campaign is efficient and effective in convincing people to get the vaccine, most people could be vaccinated by late spring or early summer, he said. “I believe we can get there by then so that by the time we get into the fall, we can start approaching some degree of relief, where the level of infection will be so low in society we can start essentially approaching some form of normality,” said Dr. Fauci.

Black, Latino and Indigenous people are about three times more likely to die from the coronavirus compared with White people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those uninviting numbers of COVID cases haven’t shifted people’s minds much for vaccine willingness, according to an early December report from Pew Research Center.

According to The Lily, 42% of Black Americans are inclined to take a vaccine compared with 63% of Hispanic Americans and 61% of White Americans. Black Americans are also less likely to trust scientists and medical scientists to act in the best interests of the public. 

“I personally am not going to get the vaccine because I don’t feel comfortable. I feel like the whole thing was rushed.” says sophomore Toni Willie.

America does not know what the future holds for the vaccine. Prayers have been made that things get better as time goes by and that Americans receive confidence and clarity with this vaccine. 

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