A new Pew study revealed recently that Black people are less inclined to get vaccinated than any other racial and ethnic group. Only 42% of those Black respondents surveyed said they intend to be vaccinated, compared with 61% of white people.
The Black Doctors COVID Consortium, which provides free COVID-19 testing around the city, came up with similar survey findings. Only 42% of the mostly Black subjects they interviewed plan to be inoculated as soon as the vaccine is available.
Many African Americans haven’t forgotten about being treated like guinea pigs in various medical experiments, such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, during which Black men infected with the sexually transmitted disease were told they were getting free health care but instead went untreated for decades.
“Even though the young people don’t know about the experiments and things, they remember their mom or their grandmom saying, ‘You don’t go to the doctor unless you’re about to die. You just don’t,’ ” Stanford said. “And, ‘If they are giving you a shot, look out. They might put something in it.’ Because at one point they were putting something in you.”
This distrust in doctors and health care may have started back then but it lingers today. Implicit bias in health care is a real thing, with some health-care professionals buying into foolish notions such as that Black people perceive pain differently from whites — a misperception that can lead to undertreatment for pain and other situations, according to the National Academy for Sciences.
Black, Latino and Native Americans are being infected with COVID-19 and dying from the virus disproportionately compared with whites. Blacks account for more than twice the number of coronavirus deaths as whites, and Latinos account for the highest number of cases, more than double that of whites.
When the University of Illinois Hospital at Chicago put out a call for vaccine study volunteers over the summer, it aimed to get at least 1,000 — a majority of them Black and Latino. More than 8,000 people volunteered for the trial of the vaccine made by biotech company Moderna. But most of them were white. UIC and the University of Chicago, its research partner, eventually recruited a majority of minority participants. But the overall number of people in the trial ended up less than 500.
Blacks make up 13% of the U.S. population but account for more than 20% of the deaths from COVID-19 and only 3% of those enrolled in vaccine trials, according to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine in October of this year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) commissioned the NASEM to provide recommendations to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). ACIP will issue national guidance, implemented by the states. ACIP has indicated it would be guided by the NASEM framework, particularly the way in which minorities will be prioritized.