Black people are expressing concerns as it relates to them receiving the new COVID-19 vaccines. The two vaccines being administered in the U.S are the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID data tracker, there have been 27,884,661 doses of the vaccine administered, 15,164,858 doses have been of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and 12,619,210, have been of the Moderna vaccine.
As of today, in the U.S, there have been 26,055,512 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 439,803 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Of those cases, Black people have been hospitalized 3.7 times the number of whites and have died 2.8 times the number of whites in America.
Although, Black people have a higher number of COVID cases, the ratio of Black to white people receiving the vaccine does not match up.
In an NBC News article written by Hannah Recht and Lauren Weber, “In Florida… 5.5 percent of white residents had received at least one vaccine dose by Jan. 26, compared with 2.0 percent of Black residents.”
It’s understandable why Black people are apprehensive about taking the vaccine. Black people have been coerced and manipulated into participating in medical experiments that should have landed a multitude of doctors in prison for life.
A significant event in history that has led to Black people not trusting in the healthcare industry is the 1932 Tuskegee Experiment. This experiment which was led by the Public Health Service and the Tuskegee Institute, was created to discover a treatment for syphilis. The experiment involved 600 Black men, 399 men who had the bacterial infection and 201 uninfected men. These men were manipulated and promised free health care, but in the end either died, got their spouses sick or even infected their future children.
Henrietta Lacks is another reason why Black people feel as if they cannot trust the healthcare industry. In 1951, Lacks loss her battle with cervical cancer. After her death, a sample of her tissue was taken to be examined without her consent, and doctors discovered that her cells not only survived after being out of her body, but they replicated. As a result, her “HeLa cells.” were then used in more than 17,000 medical patents without her family’s knowledge.
Tyler Perry, a notable actor and producer hosted a 30-minute COVID-19 special on the television network, BET, in hopes of informing the Black community of the vaccine and eliminating the apprehensiveness associated with receiving it. At the end of the informative special, shockingly Perry was administered the vaccine on national television. Although Perry hoped that this stunt would have influenced the Black community to follow suit, I think it’s going to take much more to sway the thoughts of Black people.
Moments in history like the Tuskegee Experiment or Henrietta Lacks’ cells being used without her or her family’s consent is why I, like many other Black people share the fear that healthcare workers aren’t on our side, and history has continuously proven that.
The justifiable caution that Black people are showcasing when it comes to this vaccine, is the result of the hatred and cruel behavior Black people have been at the brunt of. America is going to have to do more to prove that this vaccine is safe and won’t cause another unethical point in history.