When the COVID-19 vaccines were cleared by the FDA in mid-December, a public discussion began about Black Americans’ level of trust in these vaccines and the systems that produce and distribute them. In a study released on December 15th by the nonprofit health policy group KFF, 35% of Black people would either definitely not or probably not get the COVID vaccine (compared to 26% Latinx people and 26% white people). In many ways, this conversation is critical, as it highlights the history and current practices of medical abuse, neglect, mistreatment and violence against Black people at the hands of the government and the medical establishment--realities which are all too often ignored.
Of course, race is not the only variable that affects vaccine confidence. 42% of Republicans would either definitely not or probably not get the vaccine (compared to 31% Independents and 12% Democrats). And 35% of rural residents are in the definitely/probably not group (compared to 27% suburban and 25% urban residents).
Nevertheless, there is a risk that white people and white-controlled institutions will look to the victims of injustice to bear the burden of resolving its consequences. Not only will Black Americans die at higher rates from COVID-19, but they will be expected to get vaccinated quickly and save the rest of the country from dying of it too.
Much to bear in mind as we as a community grapple with boosting vaccine confidence in our community. For those interested in the history of Black vaccine hesitancy, as well as glean information about the vaccine, we’d like to recommend these two pieces – one, an article that appeared in USA Today and a segment on NPR’s The United States of Anxiety. We would like to thank Mark Jennings of Project FIND for sending us the USA Today article and recommending this topic for Community Corner.