Health – January 28, 2021
COVID-19 – Health Advocate – Vaccine-African Americans- medical Treatment-Coronavirus
By Nathaniel Ballantyne
(TrueNewsBlog). – COVID-19 kills black people at three times the rate it kills white people. But getting black people to take the vaccine or participate in clinical trials have become a daunting task for health professionals and advocates. Community leaders including pastors and non profit organizations have come together to help the black community understand that the vaccine is safe.
Michael Minor, a Baptist pastor and health advocate in DeSoto County, Mississippi made national headlines when he was honored by then-First Lady Michelle Obama in 2009 after banning fried chicken, which is high in fat, calories and salt, at church functions.
More recently, the pastor, whose county has the most COVID-19 cases in the state, sent his congregation text blasts with links to articles about the dangers of skipping vaccination.
Black Americans in general are skeptical and distrustful of the government for understandable reasons grounded in history and racist treatment.
During the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study last century, government researchers left hundreds of Black men untreated for decades to study the disease’s debilitating and sometimes deadly effects. And in 1951, tissues taken without consent from a Black cancer patient in Baltimore were used to create a cell line used for myriad medical experiments – a well-known ethical breach.
Today, the mistrust extends to vetted COVID-19 vaccines, not to mention vaccine trials. A Reuters/Ipsos poll in December showed just 49% of Black Americans would be interested in being vaccinated, 14 points below whites’ level of interest.
Rochester resident Edwina Killings, 58, recently spoke to Reuters from a hospital bed, battling a severe case of COVID-19. Gasping for air, Killings recalled how, weeks earlier, her Sister Marsha Allen had offered to enroll her in the Rochester COVID-19 vaccine trial. She declined.
“I wanted to see how it worked on other people first,” said Killings, who is back home but still on oxygen.
Recruiting people to help test vaccines is a steeper challenge. Success depends on including people not just as messengers but as leaders every bit as important as researchers like Branche.
“It’s not like dropping food out of an airplane in a poor country,” Allen said. “You have to work to get people on board. What’s the point of investing in a vaccine if the people don’t want it?”