Tuesday, January 19, 2021
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Opinion | Black Americans’ Vaccination Fears Can Be Quelled by a Public Health Campaign


#Many #Black #Americans say they are wary of taking the coronavirus vaccine, the logical result of centuries of abuse and exploitation by the #United #States health care system. #We empathize with the patient who told one of us, “Baby, I just don’t trust vaccines,” and with our friends and family who say they are “just going to wait.”

#And so we find ourselves with a complex problem: ​The #Black​ communities most at risk in this pandemic are the least likely to take a potentially lifesaving vaccine when it becomes available to them.

#We and our fellow #Black health care workers have an important role to play in encouraging #Black patients to get vaccinated. #But that’s not enough.

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#In addition to the much needed, longer-term strategy of increasing #Black representation among health care providers, we need a national public health campaign with local momentum that uses trusted voices in the #Black community. #As a short-term solution to a centuries-old problem, the #Centers for #Disease #Control and #Prevention should collaborate with the country’s most influential #Black #Americans, along with community organizers and #Black health care workers, to make clear that the vaccines are our only way out of this pandemic.

#To start with a few obvious names: #Oprah #Winfrey could use her television network to bring to life #Covid-19 survival stories and the reality of the disease’s long-term effects. #Michelle and #Barack #Obama could be vaccinated on national television, as #Vice #President-elect #Kamala #Harris was this week; #LeBron #James could tweet about the importance of getting the shot to his 49 million followers. #Black social media influencers could post photos of their shots. The “Divine 9” historically #Black fraternities and sororities could host a national vaccine stroll encouraging immunizations. #Pastors and hairdressers could use their social ties to rally their communities around vaccinations.

#Why is this necessary? #Vaccine reluctance is a direct consequence of the medical system’s mistreatment of #Black people. The culture of medical exploitation, abuse and neglect of #Black #Americans is best exemplified by the #Tuskegee #Syphilis #Study, which for 40 years kept some 400 #Black men with syphilis in rural #Alabama ignorant of their diagnosis and denied them adequate treatment. J. #Marion #Sims, the 19th-century doctor known as the father of modern gynecology, operated on #Black enslaved women without anesthesia or consent. #To perfect his technique, he performed a gynecological surgical procedure on one woman 30 times, never with anesthesia.

#This isn’t a problem relegated to the past; #Black patients are still treated poorly today. #Just this month, a #Black doctor in #Indiana died of #Covid-19 after complaining of racist treatment. #Given this history, it’s no surprise that #Black #Americans are reluctant to get the vaccine.

A recent #Kaiser #Family #Foundation survey found that about a third of #Black adults​ say they probably or definitely won’t get vaccinated. #Among the main reasons they cite are fear they may contract #Covid-19 from the vaccine or mistrust of vaccines in general. #Most notably, about half of #Black adults lack confidence that vaccine development has taken #Black people’s needs into account.

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The pandemic has magnified the need to design for equity. #We cannot ignore the more than 1.5 million #Black people infected with #Covid-19 and the disproportionate hospitalization and death rates they are experiencing. #Black #Americans die from #Covid at 1.7 times the rate of white people. #While there is no single antidote for the systemically racist and discriminatory health care structures and policies in this country, we can make it our goal that every #Black household will have a meaningful conversation with someone they trust about vaccination.

The challenge is twofold: to help #Black people learn more about the vaccines from sources they trust and to deliver the message in an accessible and equitable way. #We know that our patients trust #Black-owned businesses, faith-based organizations and community institutions. A recent report by the N.A.A.C.P., #Covid #Collaborative and others reveals that #Black #Americans are twice as likely to trust a message if it comes from another #Black person.

The C.D.C’s #Office of ​#Minority #Health and #Health #Equity and #Vaccine #Task #Force have​ offered resources and guidance, and can further partner with prominent advocacy groups like #Color of #Change, #New #Georgia #Project, #New #Virginia #Majority and #Dream #Defenders to acknowledge #Black people’s genuine fears and educate them about the benefits of #Covid-19 vaccines.

#Medicine has broken the trust of the #Black community. #Now it must work hard to earn it back. #Otherwise, #Black people will be further marginalized by our health care system and further victimized by this pandemic.

#Benjamin #Thomas (@BTMD5150) is an emergency physician at #Kaiser #Permanente #Northern #California in #San #Leandro. #Monique #Smith​ (@drmoniqueasmith) is the executive director of #Health #DesignED at #Emory #University and an emergency physician at #Grady #Memorial #Hospital in #Atlanta.

The #Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. #We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. #Here are some tips. #And here’s our email: [email protected].

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#Follow The #New #York #Times #Opinion section on #Facebook, #Twitter (@NYTopinion) and #Instagram.





[ source link ]
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/30/opinion/promote-black-vaccination.html

##Opinion ##Black ##Americans ##Vaccination ##Fears ##Quelled ##Public ##Health ##Campaign

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