Why Black Americans are among the largest group of COVID vaccine skeptics

Credit: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty
Credit: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty
[A]cross the U.S., only 32% of Black adults say they would definitely or probably take a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Pew Research Center. Another study by the COVID Collaborative and the NAACP found that most Black people don’t believe a vaccine will be safe or effective, and don’t plan to get it.

That we are here — with Black people, alongside Latinos, still disproportionately dying of COVID-19, and Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca on the verge of rolling out their lifesaving vaccines — comes as no surprise to Black people.

Many of us grew up hearing stories as children about how Black men were left to suffer during the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and, as adults, have lived out our own stories of fighting through disparities to try to get adequate care.

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As of last year, only about 2.6% of the nation’s physicians and 7.3% of students in medical school this year were Black… Considering the many studies that show Black people tend to have better outcomes when treated by trusted Black doctors and nurses, this is a problem.

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All of which is why convincing millions of skeptical Black people to get vaccinated — a crucial step toward achieving a herd immunity of about 70% and bringing the pandemic under control — won’t be as simple as many elected and public health officials would hope.

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