Richard J. Sylvia Jr. did not get an annual flu shot, so he wondered why take the coronavirus vaccination? He understood that Covid-19 was far more contagious and deadly, but as a person who had worked in a data center in a health clinic, he also knew that clinical trials with vaccines always took longer than the trial phase of the Covid-19 vaccines. given moniker Operation Warp Speed.
So Sylvia decided to ride out the coronavirus.
Sylvia’s fears illustrated a greater hesitation in getting the vaccination – first. In December, 52 percent of black Americans said they would “wait and see”
In a survey conducted by KFF in March, 55 percent of black respondents said they wanted vaccination as soon as possible or had already been vaccinated. Twenty-four percent still held back to wait and see the effects of the vaccine. Meanwhile, Republicans and white evangelical Christians were the most likely groups to say they would not be vaccinated, according to the study.
Medical professionals predicted that vaccine hesitation could be a problem for color communities that were hard hit by the virus, but who had also historically been underestimated or discriminated against when it came to health care. There has also been long-standing distrust of medical systems since black people have previously been subjected to cruel experiments, particularly in the U.S. public health syphilis study in Tuskegee.
Like Sylvia, Latasha Shackleford, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, was also reluctant to take the vaccination.
“I’m not naive about what that story is,” she said, talking about the exploitation of black people in early medical experiments. “But I was not deterred by it as much as I was about the effectiveness of the vaccines. I was worried about “the lack of evidence and research,” she said.
Shackleford said she took it upon herself to learn more about the vaccine, and certain health officials were “as transparent about the results as I needed them to be. I trust vaccines in general. They work. But I also understood where people’s distrust of the Covid vaccines came from. It’s so new and there are so many unknowns. ”
Shackleford, a doctor’s office coordinator, said she turned her feelings about vaccination for a number of reasons, not least as “the unpredictability of the virus. I was working in a hospital when Covid was violent and I saw how it spread among different people. It concerned me more than the vaccine. ”
She also trusted the black medical professionals who told her that the black community came on board with the vaccinations, she said.
Shackleford’s pickup was reassuring to Dr. Dominic Mack, professor of family medicine at the Morehouse School of Medicine and director of the National Center for Primary Care. The historic Black Medical College has spent the past many months working in black and underserved communities as part of a $ 40 million grant it received from the Department of Health and Human Services.
“I’m happy, but I’m not surprised by the number,” Mack said. “African Americans and people of color are educated communities who research and learn for themselves.”
“Any educated person will say they are insecure because of the speed of science and the mixed messages that have been shared about the vaccine,” Mack continued. “But black people are getting a clearer picture of how it works – and looking at how it has ruined our society.”
The impact of the virus was what swayed Sylvia from Ellenwood, Georgia, to change her mind.
“Because we were hit the hardest, reality kicked in that our people are getting sick and dying,” he said.
Even closer to home, however, two of his friends contracted Covid-19. Both feared for their lives but survived. One of them spent more than two weeks in the hospital in respiratory protection.
“He had 100 percent oxygen,” said Sylvia, 60. “I had just been with him two weeks before. These two cases were very influential. ”
So Sylvia and his wife, who shared their reservations, have each gotten their first shot.
“I went from ‘I’m not taking the vaccine’ to ‘I’m waiting’ to ‘Maybe I’ll take it sooner than I thought’ to ‘I need to make an appointment.’ That was my process, ”he said.
“The reality is that we all need some protection,” he continued. “My concerns were valid. In the end, we also had to consider that we have a 7-year-old son that we are trying to protect. But no one will know the true effect of the vaccines for years. So we are all just going in faith. “
Kelvin Lloyd of Woodbridge, Virginia, also planned to skip the vaccination. In addition to his distrust of the larger medical system, Lloyd (57) had concerns about how a vaccine might interact with multiple sclerosis medication.
“I questioned taking additional medications without knowing what vaccine side effects there were or how they responded to what I am currently taking,” said Lloyd, a senior project manager for the federal government. “I’ve had to consult my medical team.”
This consultation – and other factors, including his beliefs – led Lloyd to come around to get the vaccination.
“What changed? Well, knowing that God answers prayers,” he said. “Not only that, but the transparency of the government and the researchers and companies responsible for developing the vaccine. I have consulted my primary care physician and my neurologist and I am ready to take the vaccine. I would have considered myself careless and irresponsible if I had no questions before I took it. “
“But now I’m optimistic about receiving it and trusting the system to make sure it’s secure,” he said.
Mack, the doctor, said the targeted public service announcements promoting vaccination had the desired results.
“The campaign has been effective, whether it is President Obama encouraging the black community to take the shot or local influential people,” Mack said. “A mother and a father see the pleas and pass them on to their family, and then it is passed on and on.”
Through all the hesitation, receiving vaccination has provided a comfort that not taking it could not, Shackleford said.
“The fear of getting Covid-19 gave me a lot of anxiety – more than I realized,” she said. “Getting the vaccine has calmed me down.”
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