Vaccination Reluctance in the Black and African American Community | News

WASHINGTON — Misinformation and history have caused concern among Black and African-American communities in Washington during the pandemic, the Washington State Department of Health is trying to spread the information differently.

As of February 14, 2022, 72% of Washingtonians ages 5 and older are fully vaccinated, within the black and African American population, only 4% are fully vaccinated.

“And a lot of that stems from the historical disparities that we all know, going back to the 1920s with the Tuskegee Syphilis Study,” said Chauné Fitzgerald, CEO and founder of Women of Wisdom in Tri-cities.

The CDC and the United States Public Health Services conducted a study from 1932 to 1972 of about 400 African American men with syphilis. This study aimed to document the effects of untreated syphilis on black men in the rural south, but it was deemed “ethically unjustified” because the men were never informed of the life-threatening consequences the treatments could have on them.

In a class action lawsuit on behalf of the men in the study, the court found that participants had no choice but to leave the study when penicillin became available as a treatment and cure for syphilis. Study participants and their families reached a $10 million settlement in 1974.

“Time is enough, we are all human beings and we want the same quality of life, the same quality of health care as everyone else,” Fitzgerald said.

She said the Tuskegee Syphilis Study had a huge impact on the distrust of black and African-American communities towards health care.

“The story goes that when it turns out that you are 3/5 of a person or a man and you are not considered a full human being, it often stems from how people treat you and the type of quality care you receive,” Fitzgerald said.

That’s why the Washington State Department of Health launched the “Here for Us” campaign.

“With the COVID vaccine in particular, many communities have been kind of bombarded with a lot of misinformation and misinformation,” said Remeka Jones, acting director of the community relations and equity team at the business hub. from the Washington State Department of Health. . “It is natural for people to have general concerns about the safety and ethics of any type of medical product under development.”

The DOH wanted to bring information to African-American communities in Washington, asking community members to talk about their experiences.

“This campaign was designed by African Americans for African Americans to help dispel the misinformation I mentioned earlier that we believe has contributed to low vaccination rates,” Jones said.

Fitzgerald, who recently became a collaborative thinking partner with the DOH, said they have tried to give resources to people who are hesitant.

“They want to make sure they reach out to the black community so we don’t get left behind,” Fitzgerald said.

The Department of Health hopes the campaign will give more voice to those who are hesitant about the vaccine and provide accurate information to minority communities.

Free pop-up vaccination clinic

Women of Wisdom will be hosting a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic on February 25, 2022 at DERMACARE DERMAHEALTH in Richland.

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