On Tuesday (March 2), President Joe Biden announced that the country will have enough COVID-19 vaccines for all American adults by the end of May, marking a new and earlier timeline for the rollout. Since the first dose was administered in December 2020, nearly 80 million adults across the US have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, but early data indicate Black people aren’t getting the vaccine at the same rates.
In some states, like Tennessee, cities with large populations of Black people are reserving some vaccines specifically for those communities.
Advocates and public health officials have pointed to several reasons for the lower vaccination rates, one being state and federal rollout plans that have left some skeptical of getting the shots. Ongoing medical racism is also a factor, according to some healthcare advocates. Rural areas and areas without a certain number of pharmacies have also created barriers in transporting the vaccines and getting them into the arms of Americans.
To address the inequity, the White House COVID-19 Task Force has acknowledged the issue and began rolling out vaccines at pharmacies to help with faster and more equitable distribution.
For those who’ve gotten the vaccine, the experience varied, as well as the plans for after the vaccine becomes fully effective (people should take one to two weeks after receiving the vaccine to let it fully take effect, per CDC guidelines. In this period, people should still adhere to COVID-19 protocols). We spoke with a few people from several states who detailed their experience. One thing most had in common was gaining access to the vaccine through their jobs within the healthcare field.
“I prayed as it was being administered,”said a 60-year-old Black woman in Connecticut, who asked to remain anonymous. She told the Black Information Network it was relatively easy to get the vaccine since she works at a community healthcare clinic. Her profession also helped with having accurate information on the vaccine, too. “Before receiving the vaccine I was aware of side effects and was prepared,” she said. She reported only having soreness where the shot actually went into her arm, and that she’s “not taking for granted [that] I have [the] vaccine.” When asked about what plans she has after receiving her vaccine, she told us said she’s “still being cautious,” and will continue to “practice good hand washing, wearing masks, being careful when out in public,” she added.
For Frank Onokwu, a 30-year-old Black male in Houston, Texas, he also reported having a relatively easy experience in actually getting an appointment for the vaccine, but noted having an internship at a local hospital had provided the opportunity. He told BIN, "I wish I knew the specific difference in the two vaccines provided,” to have a clearer picture of the vaccine he received.
Twenty-nine-year-old J.L. Wright from Baltimore, Maryland, said his experience getting the vaccine was easy and convenient and that if he needed it, getting a follow-up appointment with his healthcare provider would be simple, too. "I wish I had more first-hand accounts of the side effects for those who already had a lot of [coronavirus] antibodies," Wright shared with BIN. "The first shot gave me just as many symptoms as the second." When asked what he plans to do now that's he's fully vaccinated, Wright says he still plans "to adhere to CDC rules." Adding that it "will provide me some comfort when I see my mother and grandparents because they are vaccinated as well. It will be nice to hug them again," he said.
An older Black woman in New Jersey, who is also a registered nurse and asked to remain anonymous, spoke with BIN about her experience getting the vaccine. She stated a somewhat easy experience in getting the vaccine, attributed to her profession and having to travel between patients’ homes that made getting the vaccine a necessity.
Before getting the vaccine, she said she wished she had known whether or not the COVID-19 variants had been included in the vaccine trials, but will remain cautious regardless. Before seeing her grandchildren for the first time, she said she consulted her doctor. She also said that she would only travel if “they develop a booster [shot] to include the variant,” but said, “I [will] probably talk to my doctor first.”
On social media, some people have shared their experiences with their followers as well.
The COVID-19 vaccines are starting to become available across the country, and the Black Information Network wants to know if you plan to get vaccinated. Have you already gotten the vaccine? And what are your thoughts on the vaccine? Let us know!
Click HEREto take our survey. You can also take the survey on your cell phone by dialing #250 and saying the keyword RADIO SURVEY. You’ll have the option to receive a one-time auto-dialed text message from iHeartMedia.
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