While some are clamoring to find a vaccination appointment, history is making it difficult for others to take that leap of faith that it will work.
That’s why doctors are giving an added push for people in the black and brown communities.
Carla Anderson said she is skeptical of the vaccine and not convinced. She wants more evidence the vaccine works without causing harm.
“They are really pushing for black people to line up and get this vaccine, “ she said. “Throughout history there have been tests done that use people that look like me and with these tests bad things have happened. And I haven’t seen anything that shows any long-term effects of getting the vaccine to what will happen to people that look like me. … So I don’t feel comfortable doing it yet.”
Northwestern Medicine pulmonologist Dr Khalilah Gates had similar thoughts, but then she recalled all of the Covid patients she’s treated and she rolled up her sleeve.
“I was with mixed emotions, but the alternative which is to get infected with COVID-19 and perhaps end up in the ICU that I work in,” she said. “It wasn’t a good alternative for me and so I decided to have the vaccine.”
Medical experiments on the black community, like the Tuskegee Syphilis Study where African American participants were not informed when an effective treatment – penicillin — became available, led to the distrust. But doctors battling this pandemic say we are all in it together.
While Covid has ravaged the black and brown communities, it’s killed people of all races and ethnicities. The goal now is save all lives.
“So there are lots of legalities and regulatory rules in place now for clinical studies to try to prevent that,” Gates said. “But the reality is that it’s a history that still nags us and we have to accept that and work within that.”
Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot rolled up her sleeve for the vaccine to show others she believes. And she has thrown her support behind the Protect Chicago Plus initiative.
Dr Candice Robinson is medical director at Chicago Department of Public Health.
“We’ve identified 15 communities using our Chicago COVID vulnerability index, and these are 15 of the hardest hit communities who have been most impacted by COVID-19,” she said. “We’re putting in additional resources to ensure that all of the barriers in those communities are removed so everybody there who wants a vaccine can get a vaccine. We’re working with community-based organizations. We’re working with providers in the area to outreach to community members to address questions, make sure they have all the information they need. We’re also setting up additional vaccine events, community special events and temporary vaccination clinics in those locations.”
Vaccinating every community puts us closer to herd immunity and that helps prevent mutations that could diminish the effects of the vaccine. But the majority of study participants, 79.2% were white. It was tested in only 10.2 percent of African Americans.
“I would say by the fall, I think they would have more testing done to see the effects and I would consider,” Anderson said.
“Let’s keep talking about it,” Gates said. “Let’s keep getting our questions answered until we feel comfortable with it.”
As we have seen from the beginning of the pandemic, the newly identified virus and the rapidly developed vaccines have left even the brightest minds with a lot of questions. As this point everyone is following evolving science.