The group who authored the piece is made up of nurses, doctors, researchers, scientists and other healthcare professionals who are among the 60 Black members of the National Academy of Medicine. They know the nation’s history of providing ethical, adequate healthcare to Black people is playing into the reluctance towards getting the vaccine.
“Far too often, our health has been ignored and even abused in the name of science,” they wrote. “It is no surprise that polls indicate Black Americans are far less likely than other groups to intend to get vaccinated against COVID-19.”
The group believes false messages about the vaccine spread on social media, fueling further distrust among Black Americans.
“Disinformation about the coronavirus and vaccines has pervaded social media, feeding on long-held and absolutely warranted distrust of health institutions in Black communities. The lies are an assault on our people, and it threatens to destroy us,” they said.
When the vaccine was first introduced, there were several lines drawn from Black Americans’ hesitancy and the Tuskegee Study that intentionally withheld treatment from Black men over several decades.
That, along with other documented abuse from the US healthcare system, support the poll data quoted by the Black healthcare officials that spurred them into action.
“A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 43 percent of Black Americans were taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to getting a vaccine,” the group highlighted. “Eight percent said they would get one only if required. Fourteen percent said they would ‘definitely not’ get a vaccination.”
Recent data also show that Black Americans are getting the vaccination at disproportionately lower rates than white Americans.
“With numbers like those, we believe this moment requires leaders to stand up and lead: to help save our people and nation, to protect Black Americans and all Americans, and to break the stranglehold Covid-19 has had on our country,” they added.
The group detailed that the vaccine was able to be produced so rapidly because of “recent technological advances just waiting for a moment such as this,” and that a diverse group of people have been in clinical trials and involved with the vaccine’s development.
“We can’t know everything about the long-term impact of the vaccine at this point,” the group added. “However, we are beginning to learn about the long-term impact of Covid-19. While most survivors return to seemingly normal health, many others have continued to struggle.”
The group ended their op-ed, reemphasizing the urgency to get vaccinated:
“We encourage you to claim your place in line to get vaccinated. Do this for yourself. Do this for our community. We are asking you to trust our advice because we are a part of you. And together we can save lives.”
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