DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m really afraid to get the COVID-19 vaccine. I was born in the late ‘60s, and I’ve witnessed firsthand how the medical community misdiagnoses, tricks and leads the Black community astray. I know that at some point I will need it -- and I don’t want to side with anti-vaxxers -- but I’m frightened. Do you think that I am justified in being afraid of getting the vaccine, or am I being irrational? I don’t believe statistics -- I know numbers can be fixed. -- On the Fence
DEAR ON THE FENCE: You are not alone in your skepticism about getting the COVID-19 vaccine -- particularly as a Black person. It is true that in the past, there have been many egregious acts by the medical community with regard to people of African descent, most notable among them being the Tuskegee Study, a 40-year study of African American males with untreated syphilis who were led to believe that they were being treated. For more on the history of how Blacks have been discriminated against regarding healthcare, read health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronavirus/covid-vaccine-black-distrust.
Based on all that I have read about the COVID-19 vaccines, this is a different story. Because of the advanced technology and capabilities in modern medicine, vaccinations have been developed in record time and are being administered to all races and ethnicities in the American population. To be fair, statistics show that Black and brown neighborhoods are getting access to vaccinations more slowly than predominantly white communities, but they are getting them. And the staggering death rate is diminishing.
Given that Black people have contracted COVID-19 at higher rates than whites throughout much of the United States, it is important to get protection against this deadly disease. That’s my opinion after extensive reading. To learn more about the vaccination for older African Americans and people of color, read AARP CEO Joann Jenkins’ thoughts at bit.ly/38TuZIe. General information about the vaccines can be found here: bit.ly/3lusiC3.