TUSKEGEE, Ala – By the time coronavirus vaccines were introduced late last year, the pandemic had taken two of Lucenia Williams Dunn’s close friends. Still, former Tuskegee mayor Ms. Dunn spent months contemplating whether to vaccinate.
It was a complex idea, framed by the government’s failed response to the pandemic, its disproportionate toll on black communities, and an infamous 40-year government experiment to which his hometown is often associated.
“I thought about the vaccine most every day,” said Ms Dunn, 78, who finally went to a pharmacy this summer and rolled up her sleeve for a shot, not weighing in with her family and doctor. Convinced about the possible consequences after being convinced.
“People need to understand that some of the hesitation is rooted in a terrifying history, and for some, it’s the process of asking the right questions to actually get the vaccine.”
In the first months after the vaccine rollout, black Americans were White Americans much less likely to be vaccinated than. In addition to the difficulty of getting shots in their communities, their hesitation was driven by a powerful combination of general mistrust of government and medical institutions, and misinformation about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
Experts say a wave of pro-vaccine campaigns and a wave of hospitalizations and deaths from the virus this summer, mostly due to the non-vaccinated and highly contagious Delta variant, have narrowed the gap. So, too, is the Food and Drug Administration’s full acceptance of a vaccine and the new employer’s mandate. a strong resistance Vaccines may also have contributed to reducing inequality in some white communities.
While gaps persist in some areas, until the end of September, according to Most Recent Survey by Kaiser Family FoundationNearly equal parts of the black, white and Hispanic adult population — 70 percent of black adults, 71 percent of white adults and 73 percent of Hispanic adults — had received at least one vaccine dose. a pew study A similar pattern was detected in late August. Federal data shows a large racial gap, but that data is missing demographic information for many vaccine recipients.
Since May, when vaccines were widely available to most adults nationwide, monthly surveys by Kaiser have shown a steady improvement in vaccination rates among black Americans.
How the racial gap was bridged – after months of disappointing polling and limited access – is a testament to decisions made in many states, which are knocking on doors and dispelling myths about the effectiveness of vaccines from familiar faces. To send to, provide Internet access to appointments and offers. Transport to vaccine sites.
In North Carolina, where vaccine providers are required to collect race and ethnicity data, hospital systems and community groups campaigned door-to-door and hosted pop-up clinics in theme parks, bus stations and churches. Over the summer, the African American portion of the vaccinated population began to more closely reflect the African American portion of the general population.
In Mississippi, which has one of the worst vaccination rates in the country and similar efforts have been launched, 38 percent of people who initiate the vaccine process are Black, a share roughly equal to the Black portion of Mississippi’s population.
And in Alabama, public awareness campaigns and rides to vaccination sites helped turn dismal vaccination rates. A store owner and county commissioner in Panola, a small rural town near the Mississippi border, led an effort to vaccinate his nearly all-black community.
Today, about 40 percent of Black Alabama residents — up from about 28 percent at the end of April — have received at least one dose, a feat in a state with one of the lowest overall vaccination rates and one of the highest per capita deaths from Covid. is more. 19. About 39 percent of white people in the state had a diet, up from 31 percent at the end of April.
Health officials and community leaders say those who live without vaccination have pointed to concerns about how quickly vaccines developed and what long-term health effects they might have, as well as propaganda such as Tracking devices involve or alter people’s DNA. The damage caused by government-backed trials in Tuskegee, in which black families were misled by health care professionals, is also playing a role in some communities, helping to explain why some African Americans are still left out.
“It’s less about saying, ‘This racial ethnic group is more hesitant, more reluctant to vaccinate,’ and it’s more about saying, ‘You know, this group of people in this area or this The community doesn’t have access to the information or information they need to overcome their hesitation, said Nelson Dunlap, chief of staff at the Sacher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine.
When the U.S. Public Health Service began the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” 600 black men—399 with syphilis and 201 without the disease—were told they would be treated for so-called bad blood in return. For free medical examination, food and burial insurance. In fact the treatment was stopped. Even after penicillin was discovered as an effective treatment, most did not receive an antibiotic.
The experiment began in 1932 and did not stop until 1972, and only after it was exposed in a news article. The surviving men and the heirs of those who died were later awarded a settlement of about $10 million, and the risk of the study eventually led to improvements in medical research. Nevertheless, the loss endured.
“Some families survived the study. Everyone here knows someone who was in the study,” said Omar Neal, 64, a radio show host and former Tuskegee Mayor who counts three relatives in the study and who Stagger on a vaccine before finally getting one, their mind changed by the increasing number of deaths.” And the betrayal—because that was the study—often whenever people are questioning distrustful medicine or something related to science. Huh.”
Reuben C., director of the National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care at Tuskegee University. Warren said the study served as a true example in the long line of medical abuse and neglect experienced by black Americans, undermining trust in government and health. care system.
What to know about Covid-19 booster shots
FDA Authorized booster shots For a select group of people who received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months ago. That group includes: Pfizer recipients who are 65 years of age or older or who live in long-term care facilities; Adults who are at high risk of severe Covid-19 because of an underlying medical condition; Health care workers and others whose jobs put them at risk. people with weak immune system Four weeks after the second shot are eligible for a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna.
The CDC states that conditions that qualify a person for a booster shot include: high blood pressure and heart disease; diabetes or obesity; cancer or blood disorder; weakened immune system; chronic lung, kidney or liver disease; Dementia and some disabilities. Pregnant women and current and former smokers are also eligible.
The FDA authorizes boosters for workers whose jobs put them at high risk of coming into contact with potentially infectious people. The CDC says the group includes: emergency medical workers; education worker; food and agricultural workers; construction workers; reform worker; US Postal Service employees; public transport workers; Grocery store workers.
It is not recommended. For now, Pfizer vaccine recipients are advised to get the Pfizer booster shot, and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients should wait until a booster dose is approved from those manufacturers.
Yes. The CDC says the Covid vaccine can be administered regardless of the timing of other vaccines, and many pharmacy sites are allowing people to schedule the flu shot at the same time as a booster dose.
“The questions being asked about vaccines must be understood in the larger context of historical inequalities in health care,” Dr. Warren said. “There is hope, of course, should they eventually decide to get the vaccine.”
A national campaign led by the Ad Council and the Covid Collaborative, a coalition of experts, faced hesitation. This summer, a short-form documentary including the descendants of men in the Tuskegee study was added to the expedition.
When Deborah Riley Draper, who made the short-form documentary, interviewed descendants of the Tuskegee study, she was amazed at how steeped it was in myths and misconceptions, such as the false claim that the government gave men syphilis. was injected.
“Descendants’ message was clear that African Americans are a part of public health like any other group and that we need to fight for access and information,” she said.
In Macon County, Ala., which has a population of about 18,000 and is home to many descendants of the Tuskegee Trials, about 45 percent of black residents have received at least one vaccine dose. Community leaders, who are part of a task force that meets weekly, attribute the data, in part, to local outreach and education campaigns and numerous conversations about the differences between the Tuskegee study and coronavirus vaccines.
For months, Martin Daniels, 53, and his wife, Trina Daniels, 49, opposed vaccines, their uncertainty partly to blame in the study. His nephew Cornelius Daniel, a dentist in Hampton, Ga., said that he grew up hearing about research from his uncle, and saw in his own family how the long-running deception fueled a generation’s mistrust of medical institutions. Was sown
Mr Daniel, 31, said he overcame his hesitation in the spring because the risks of working in patients’ mouths outweighed their concerns.
His uncle and aunt slowly reconsidered their suspicions, but over the summer, with the Delta variant hospitalized across the South, Daniels made vaccination appointments in mid-July. Before the date came, however, he and his two teenage children tested positive for the coronavirus.
On July 6, the inseparable couple died nearly six hours after they met as students on the campus of Savannah State University. Their children are now being raised by Mr. Daniels and his wife Melanie Daniels, 32.
“We truly believe the vaccine would have saved his life,” Ms Daniel said.
Mitch Smith Contributed reporting.