FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - A poll conducted by the Pew Research Institute found that only 42% of African Americans polled said they would definitely or probably get the COVID-19 vaccine if it was available today. That compares to over 60% of people of other races.
Nurse Practitioner Lormekia Warren with the Neighborhood Health Clinic says how African American have and are treated may be the reason behind the distrust of the vaccine.
"African Americans have a hard time trusting america in general due to systemic racism and oppression our race experienced from this very same country," Warren said.
This includes the Tuskegee Study, where African American men were told they were being treated for Syphilis, but proper treatment was actually being withheld and the true motive behind the study were never revealed, as well as current day inadequacies with pregnant African American women, Warren says.
Warren explained, "So, when presented with a novel or brand new vaccination those thoughts and feelings tend to resurface adding to our reluctancy to take it."
Throughout the pandemic, communities of color have been impacted to a greater extent by the virus according to Allen County Health Commissioner Matthew Sutter, MD. That’s why he says they plan to continue the stress to those communities the vaccine is safe.
"I really want to emphasize that it’s important for all the communities, but especially the communities of color to be strongly considering this because the two vaccines that have been approved so far look great," Sutter said. "There efficacy is really good and the adverse effects are really small."
Sutter explained those are the tools they have right now. To educate people to a point where they feel comfortable enough to get the vaccine, and Warren says those who are skeptical of getting the vaccine should trust the science.
"I strongly believe we as an African American race should focus more on what the scientists and top healthcare officials leading this country have to say as oppose to the politicians and even our close family and friends," Warren said.
Vaccination for the general population is still month away, so healthcare officials are urging people to remain vigilant, but to step up and get the vaccine when it’s their turn.