I’m Black, and I Chose to Receive the Covid-19 Vaccine
I thought long and hard about it, but I’m here to prove that it’s not that bad
The Covid-19 pandemic has killed more than 500,000 people and infected almost 30 million people in the United States alone. Even with these extraordinarily high numbers, cases have been disproportionately amplified within communities of color. According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native people had an age-adjusted Covid-19 hospitalization rate about 5.3 times that of non-Hispanic White people. Covid-19 hospitalization rates among non-Hispanic Black people and Hispanic or Latino people were both about 4.7 times the rate of non-Hispanic White people.
Fortunately, within the past several months, three vaccines have been approved for distribution throughout the United States. For now, if you are a frontline worker, have certain preexisting conditions, or have resources and connections to move you to the front of the line, you can get vaccinated. Sounds good, right? We can all get the shot in our arms and back to living the life we once knew.
That sounds like an easy fix, and most news reports make it seem as if most Americans are eager to get the vaccination. But that’s not the case; not everyone is excited. Even with the high infection rate, there is a lack of trust in getting vaccinated within multiple demographic subsets, including the Black community.
To fully understand why there might be skepticism among Black people about the vaccine, we must look back at one of the many pivotal moments in history that sowed distrust in the U.S. health care system.
Between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) and CDC recruited Black men to participate in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Participants were told that they were receiving free health care from the federal government — but the secret purpose of this highly unethical study was to observe the natural history of untreated syphilis.
The Tuskegee experiment is one of the main reasons some Black people question everything medical professionals may tell them to do. On the one hand, you know you need to seek medical advice if you don’t feel…