Surgeon General: Black Americans' Distrust In Vaccine Comes From History Of Medical Racism
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Sunday addressed general suspicions about a COVID-19 vaccine among color communities - especially black Americans - and how the government must work to restore confidence undermined by years of medical racism.
Margaret Brennan, host of CBS "Face the Nation," asked the surgeon general how he was trying to convince skeptical black Americans to get vaccinated against the virus that has infected tens of millions of Americans and killed more than 317,000 people.
"I know that long before COVID there were many diseases - high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes - that plagued the color communities," said Adams. "And COVID just revealed the differences that have been around for a long time."
Black Americans are almost twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as white Americans. Indigenous people are about one and a half times more likely to die, according to the racial data dashboard from the COVID Tracking Project. Black people are responsible for 18% of COVID-19 deaths that are race known, and which are the race or ethnicity most likely to die from the virus.
The extreme racial differences in COVID-19 infections can mainly be explained by longstanding social, economic, ecological and health inequalities resulting from widespread institutional and systemic barriers such as lack of access to health care and medical racism.
Many black Americans are also key workers during the pandemic, making it difficult for them to socially distance themselves or to stay home, and they are more likely to use public transportation.
Still, around 35% of black adults said they likely or definitely would not take the vaccine, according to the Kaiser Foundation's COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor for December. About half of black respondents who were hesitant about the vaccine cited the main reasons that they generally do not trust vaccines and fear the vaccine could infect them with COVID-19. The response highlighted the importance of tackling vaccine misinformation with messages that instill confidence in color communities.
Adams said the sense of suspicion about the vaccine among color communities "comes from a real place."
"I've already spoken about the history of abuse of color communities," he said. "The Tuskegee Experiment, the terrible treatment of Henrietta Lacks and her family, and how they took their cells without her permission."
Adams' reference to Lacks was about the black woman whose cells were removed without her permission for medical research when she sought treatment for cervical cancer more than 60 years ago. Lacks died in 1951 despite radiation therapy and surgery, but her cells continued to play a role in many scientific advances - including protecting young women from the cervical cancer that cost Lacks his life.
The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was a program in which government-appointed doctors studied the progression of the disease in about 400 black men without their consent from 1932 to 1972. Doctors withheld treatment while the men suffered from conditions such as blindness or extreme mental distress. Some of the subjects unwittingly passed the disease on to their loved ones before they died.
It actually comes from my office, several surgeons overseeing the Tuskegee trials in which black men were denied treatment for 40 years. And I walk past her pictures every day when I go to my office.
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams
"It actually comes from my office, several surgeons oversaw the Tuskegee trials for 40 years in which black men were denied treatment," said Adams, who is black. “And I walk past her pictures every day when I go to my office. Believe me, this legacy is important to me and it is important to restore that confidence. "
The government got many people involved in vaccine testing and a vaccine study that included color participants, Adams said.
“What I want to say to people the most is: I'll have the conversation. I was vaccinated on Friday. I feel really great. My mother-in-law and my mother are watching and have been asking me all weekend, "How are you?" I feel great, "said Adams." And I hope people get the vaccine based on information they get from trusted sources. Because it's okay to have questions. What's wrong is Making poor health decisions based on misinformation. "
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