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Healthcare history in minority communities fuels fear over COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 9:39 PM CST
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - As we get closer to the COVID-19 vaccine becoming available to the general public, there are some who still question its safety.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 58% of Americans are willing to take the vaccine, but only 48% of non-white adults said they would.

Sociology experts say the distrust in medicine is traced back to a history of oppression, especially among the Black community.

“The African-American community was seen as a dispensable population that could be used and exploited and nobody would care,” Junior Hopwood said, an assistant sociology and psychology professor at Grambling State University.

Hopwood cited the Tuskegee Syphilis Study where hundreds of healthy Black men were used, without their consent, to study the effect of the deadly disease. He said those fears are still in the back of the minds of many people.

“In a sense they wanted persons who were disposable so to speak so they saw members of the black community as disposable,” Hopwood said.

So, what can be done to ease this fear?

Thursday, former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama agreed to publicly take the vaccine in an effort to show it’s safe.

Hopwood believes that’s a step in the right direction, but said more needs to be done locally.

“I think it’ll start in the right direction because those within the black community, certainly former President Barack Obama, is still held in high esteem and still have that type of legitimacy that might do it, but I think it’s also incumbent on members in the Black community to take that step,” Hopwood said.

He said if the government wants to sway people, they will need the cooperation of local leaders to instill that faith.

“When your leaders in your community are willing to do it and they are with you and you can see what’s happening and to see to see the authenticity of the vaccine, then it becomes real,” Hopwood said.

The vaccine is expected to be available to the general public in Louisiana in May or June.

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