Across the US, black communities were hesitant to take the Coronavirus vaccines that started in December last year to combat the spread of Covid-19 in the country. Fears ranged from skepticism towards federal authorities and efficacy of the vaccines.
Vaccine Trust Rising Among Black Communities After Outreach Efforts
Throughout the course of the pandemic, black communities were the hardest hit, as most of them were located in cramped areas with little to no access to healthcare facilities.
However, in the past few months, there have been outreach efforts by various NGOs and individuals to persuade the black communities to take the vaccines.
Matt Pringle, a 57- year old Black woman in South Carolina was skeptical of the vaccines. She feared a reaction due to her high blood pressure and diabetes issues.
A local NAACP leader, who also happens to be a member from Pringle’s church, persuaded her to change her mind. She finally agreed for the first dose of the vaccine on Thursday after she came to know about Kizzmekia Corbett, a Black government scientist who helped with the Moderna vaccines.
There have been numerous campaigns in recent weeks which have urged black communities to trust the government vaccination programs. After Joe Biden pumped millions of dollars worth of assistance, local groups across the country are driving initiatives to persuade under-reserved communities to trust the government and get vaccinated.
As per a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, it was found that 24% Black Americans are hesitant to or completely denying getting vaccinated, a number which plummeted from 41% in January.
Dr. Georges Benjamin accredited the efforts for a “180° turnaround” to Black physicians, faith leaders and other community organizers who have combated misinformation with their outreach campaigns.
Health experts like Benjamin and Dr. Lisa Cooper, director of John Hopkins Center for Health Equity have stressed on the importance of existing community relationships, as the former quoted the importance of the “Messenger” in these aspects. Cooper, who is renowned in the Baltimore area for her research on Nutrition gained more trust as a source of information on Covid-19 from community members.
Several state health departments have started ads targeting back communities. NAACP and pastors of black churches have joined in the effort to persuade black people into taking the shots.
The Georgia Department of Public Health has put the faces of pastors on billboards and mailed postcards to residents in Brunswick, Georgia.
Fears were still persistent in some communities as residents suspected that the government was trying to gather test subjects rather than to help them. Such fears, activists say, will take time to completely transform into trusting the government. Their skepticism can be traced back to the Tuskegee incident in Alabama when the government left thousands of black people untreated for syphilis and tested on them for research purposes for 40 years.
All across the US, there is vaccine hesitancy, especially among black communities. Jason Pttibone, a black barber from Georgia said that although his family has been vaccinated and show no ill effects or symptoms, his customers who come in have told him stories, including one where the father of a customer lost all sensation on the right side of his body after being vaccinated.
The vaccination programs are currently underway in the US, with more than 187 million doses administered so far. In total, 19% of the total US population has been fully vaccinated.
So far, there have been more than 31 million cases in the US with around 561,000 deaths so far. Most states have made all Americans eligible for the vaccines as Biden announced May 1 to be the last date fpr all states to follow the same.