Adoption of the COVID-19 vaccine in the African-American community

As America struggles to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, educating at-risk communities, especially African Americans 45 and older, about vaccine safety is critical to fighting the coronavirus pandemic. The vital first step in the effort should be to better understand how older African Americans are experiencing the coronavirus pandemic. Tackling COVID-19 is not something we are doing to African American communities; it’s something we do with these communities.

The AARP sought to understand how African Americans 45 and older experience the pandemic and what information older African Americans would need to make an informed decision about vaccination. Our Vital Voices survey conducted in June 2020 demonstrated that community plays a major role in the lives of African Americans, and reaching out through their local communities provides an opportunity to gain the trust of these older Americans on this vital topic. .

Many factors contribute to vaccine reluctance in the African American community, including limited access to health care, persistent stigma in health systems, higher rates of chronic disease, and a higher incidence of jobs in essential jobs. Many African Americans are also skeptical of vaccines because of America’s shameful history of unethical experiments. Some African Americans may still remember the Savannah Mosquito Experiment (1956, 1950), the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (1972), and the Cancer Cells of Henrietta Lacks (1951), which were collected without his knowledge or consent and have been used in medical research. It’s no surprise that past injustices have sowed distrust of government in African American communities.

As late as January 2021, a NORC / AP poll found that only 24% of African Americans planned to get the vaccine, compared to 53% of white Americans. At least 40% of African Americans did not intend to get the vaccine and 37% were unsure. If African Americans do not take the vaccine, it will take longer for the African American community to achieve herd immunity, which occurs when enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely. Collective immunity protects the entire community, even those who are not themselves immune. Without it, the virus will continue to impact the African American community and could escalate.

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