The nation began rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine this week, beginning with frontline healthcare workers and nursing home residents, but not everyone is confident in it.
A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about 35% of Black Americans said they would probably or definitely not get the vaccine, even if scientists said it was safe, and widely available at no cost.
The study surveyed 1,676 adults between November 30 and December 8 and found that the overwhelming majority –– 71% –– of Black adults in the study said that they’re concerned about the vaccine’s possible side effects.
Half of the survey’s Black participants said they’re worried about actually getting COVID-19 as a result of getting vaccinated and 48% expressed a general distrust of vaccines.
The study’s findings are troubling for health officials who are looking to those most at-risk vaccinated. Throughout the pandemic, Black Americans have made up a disproportionate amount of COVID-19-related deaths and hospitalizations.
Sandra Lindsay, a Black critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York was one of the first people to get the vaccine. Dr. Michelle Chester, the corporate director of employee health services at Northwell Health, is also Black and delivered the shot to Lindsay.
Many health officials, including Surgeon General Jerome Adams, pointed to the country's history of exploiting Black people for medical research as a major factor contributing to the skepticism.
The study found that 48% of Black and 36% of Latino adults are not confident that the vaccine trials considered the needs of people of color.
Still, civil rights groups are looking to aid in the effort to get Black Americans vaccinated, given the devastating toll the virus has had. According to the CDC, 40% of all reported COVID-19 cases have been Black and Latino people.
These efforts may look to use primary care physicians as educators, since an overwhelming 85% of Black study participants said they’d trust information from their personal healthcare provider.
Health officials also want the public to know about work of Black doctors like Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a Black woman and lead research on the vaccine, who have be instrumental in the vaccine's development it in its efforts to build trust.
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