MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A COVID-19 vaccine could be available soon, but not everyone is willing to take it.
A new nationwide poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation and ESPN’s The Undefeated shows 49 percent of Black adults wouldn’t take a COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available, even if the vaccine is free and considered safe.
“It’s going to mean that we’re asking people who historically have had no reason to trust healthcare systems to trust them, to trust us,” said Dr. Altha Stewart, UTHSC Senior Associate Dean for Community Health & Engagement.
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She said she is working with other medical professionals to debunk the myths about vaccines in the Black community.
“That the facts around COVID and what it is doing in black and brown communities has been so, the facts have been so mismanaged that people don’t know what to believe so they are choosing to believe nothing,” she said.
The KFF/The Undefeated study shows of those who wouldn’t take the vaccine, 35% of Black adults are concerned over a general lack of trust about the government and healthcare system. Overall, 65 percent aren’t confident the development of a vaccine is considering the needs of Black people.
The study also cites the 40-year Tuskegee syphilis experiment along with the story of Henrietta Lacks, whose cancerous cells were studied and used without her consent as reasons why Black people distrust medical research.
“All of those things combined create an environment where communities feel like they have no reason to trust, that whatever’s happening, whatever’s coming down that vaccine pipeline is going to do them any good,” said Dr. Stewart.
She said there must be more community education about how vaccines work.
“We’re going to have to let people know vaccines work because we are introducing into your body a dead version or a reduced version of that virus to provoke your immune system to fight it,” said Stewart.
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