For People of Color – A vaccine shot or not?

Wow, after reading all the stuff about the reluctancy by people of color – Black folks in particular – to get a COVID vaccine shot, it appears that I opened a keg of worms with a genuine question I posed to several people of color. That question was: When the COVID vaccine is available, do you plan to get a shot?

Now the reactions were immediate and resounding, among them:

“No way! I distrust things we’ve allowed to be put into our bodies.”                           

                                                            – African American Lawyer

“I still have my doubts about the vaccine, so will take a pass for now.”

  • Hispanic business owner

“Duh, haven’t you heard about the Tuskegee experiment? That’s my answer.”

  • African American entrepreneur  

“To be honest, I’ll wait until I see the results from the experiences of white people who get vaccinated before I put a needle in my arm.”                                          

                                                                              – Bi-racial writer

Like millions, I watched President-elect Joe Biden and Surgeon General Jerome Powell get vaccine shots on national television. Dr. Anthony Fauci, “America’s Doctor,” soon followed suit.

Yet as a believer in the science, I’m still stick and asking – pleading rather – for someone to help me make sense of the so-called “anti-vaccine” movement that keeps popping up in the news, and the extent to which it may be behind the lingering doubts. Part of the answer I now understand is “vaccine hesitancy, “also known as anti-vax, a reluctance to be vaccinated against contagious diseases despite the availability of vaccinations.

These days anti-vaxxers are targeting different groups – such as minorities and parents – to dissuade them from being vaccinated, according to the Center for Countering Digital Hate. They have been running private Facebook groups to train members in identifying those who are “vaccine hesitant” and converting them into members of their movement, according to the CCDH.

Now as an African American, I know how the Tuskegee experiment, perhaps the most famous examples a horrible history of medical treatment of Black folks, is a factor in vaccine hesitancy. But for those needing a refresher here is a snapshot of that awful experiment.

In the early 1930s, doctors deliberately did not treat about 400 Black men who had syphilis so the physicians could study the disease. Many men who participated in the research died and infected their loved ones. They were told that they were receiving free health care from the federal government.

In the years since the experiment was exposed, it has become a central reference point for understanding Black Americans’ relationship to the medical establishment, including COVID-19. 

Worth mentioning is that the N.A.A.C.P., in conjunction with other organizations, released a report, “Vaccine Hesitancy in Black and Latinx Communities,” which found that just fourteen per cent of African-Americans surveyed “mostly or completely trust” the vaccine’s safety. 

And on top of that, wrote The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb, earlier this year a Washington Post-Ipsos poll found that eighty-three per cent of Black people think that Trump is a racist and that only four per cent of Blacks trust the Administration; that distrust has apparently bled into perceptions of the vaccine. 

Against the hesitancy, today COVID-19 has been particularly merciless to Black, Hispanic and Asian for reasons of poverty, preexisting health condition and front -line jobs. Black people in particular are dying from COVID-10 at two times the rate of their white peers. 

Exacerbating matters are the concerns by undocumented workers who are very reluctant seek any type of medical care, fearing recrimination and being targeted by federal officials for deportation. 

“Persuading undocumented immigrants to step forward now will be essential to the overall success of the COVID-19 vaccine program,” said Tera Plese, chief external officer of the Arizona Alliance of Community Health Center.

In the end, we are left with the vexing conundrum of disproportionate infection rates by people of color on one hand against vaccine hesitancy for a myriad of reasons on the other. 

Like Shakespeare’s famous life and death soliloquy, “To be or not to be, that is the question,” the life and death question today is, “vaccine shot or not?”  – a question that we as individuals must answer….and soon!

As for this African- American columnist, if my doctor tells me to get vaccinated  – and I expect he will- I’ll be the first in line, ready, willing and able, and will keep you posted as to how well I’m doing!

© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer and storyteller. He is a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, The American Diversity Report, The Douglas County Sentinel, lTheBlackMarket.com, The Echo World, co-founder of the “26 Tiny Paint Brushes” writers’ guild, and recipient of the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership Award. 

Share:

5 thoughts on “For People of Color – A vaccine shot or not?

  1. Thank you a lot for giving everyone an exceptionally breathtaking possiblity to read in detail from this web site. It is usually so ideal plus full of a lot of fun for me personally and my office acquaintances to search the blog minimum 3 times in a week to study the newest guides you will have. And definitely, I am just actually pleased considering the staggering creative ideas you give. Certain 3 facts in this post are easily the most effective we have all ever had.

  2. My wife and i felt so cheerful that Jordan could carry out his survey via the precious recommendations he received from your very own web pages. It’s not at all simplistic just to be giving for free key points which some other people could have been selling. And we take into account we have you to give thanks to for this. The most important illustrations you made, the straightforward site navigation, the relationships your site help to engender – it’s everything fabulous, and it’s aiding our son in addition to the family understand that issue is fun, which is really vital. Thank you for all!

  3. I wish to express appreciation to you just for rescuing me from this type of difficulty. As a result of checking through the the web and meeting proposals which were not productive, I thought my entire life was over. Living without the solutions to the problems you have fixed by means of your post is a serious case, and ones that would have badly damaged my entire career if I had not noticed your web page. Your primary ability and kindness in touching all things was excellent. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t encountered such a point like this. I can at this point look forward to my future. Thank you very much for this expert and results-oriented guide. I will not think twice to refer your web page to anyone who should have care about this matter.

  4. I truly wanted to develop a note in order to appreciate you for those unique hints you are giving out here. My extended internet search has at the end of the day been honored with excellent know-how to exchange with my great friends. I would point out that we readers are rather blessed to exist in a wonderful website with so many outstanding professionals with helpful pointers. I feel quite grateful to have used the web pages and look forward to plenty of more excellent times reading here. Thanks once again for a lot of things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.