The New Tri-State Defender recently conducted a survey on its social media pages (@tsdmemphis on Twitter and Facebook and thenewtsd on Instagram), where readers were asked if they would be willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine?

by Najee El-Amin —

As the U.S. government launches its massive COVID-19 vaccine distribution, looming are the seemingly daunting issues of how to speedily get the approved vaccines to the most at-risk populations and how to get skeptical Americans, especially African Americans, to get vaccinated.

African Americans are nearly three times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to white Americans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.

There is concern, however, that minorities will be unwilling to be vaccinated because of trust issues having to do with this country’s history of such medical efforts not being conducive to their wellbeing.

The Tuskegee experiment that began in 1932 often is cited as an example. The U.S. Public Health Service purposely gave Black men syphilis without their knowledge, so doctors could study it to better protect white patients.

Legislators and medical professionals are studying ways to gain the trust of minorities, along with the general public, to get vaccinated.

State Rep. Antonio Parkinson (Courtesy photo)

State Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis), who is chairman of the Shelby County legislative delegation,  is aware of the concern over the vaccine in the African-American community.

“There’s a lot of mistrust out there … and understandably so,” said Parkinson, also former chair of the Tennessee House of Representatives Democratic Caucus.

“There was a time when Black people were used as experiments for testing vaccines,” he said.

Parkinson also understands how the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines increases many people’s skepticism.

“When you look at how fast this vaccine was created, there’s a lot of people who feel like there wasn’t enough testing and they don’t know what the outcomes will be in the future as it relates to those who have received the vaccine,” he said.


 


The New Tri-State Defender recently conducted a survey on its social media pages (@tsdmemphis on Twitter and Facebook and thenewtsd on Instagram), where readers were asked if they would be willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine?

Out of 159 respondents, 108 people said they would be unwilling to take the vaccine.

A follow-up question asked the reason for the lack of confidence towards the vaccines? All 104 responders to that question said they do not trust the vaccine and its effects.

For the vaccines to be effective in drastically stopping the spread of the virus, 75 percent of Americans need to get vaccinated, according to health officials.

“It’s (taking the vaccine) scary at the least, but part of it is going to be us practicing personal responsibility and us removing the selfishness and looking out for our fellow African Americans.

“We have to look out for our neighbors and the people we come in contact with to ensure that were not sending this virus back with them to infect someone that has a pre-existing condition or to infect and elderly person and those that are most vulnerable to this virus,” said Parkinson.

 (Follow State Representative Antonio Parkinson on Twitter @TNRepParkinson.)