Washington Post reported on the 24th local time that a poll in September this year showed that less than half (48%) of African-Americans and 66% of Latinos are willing to be vaccinated even if it is free of charge. And they are exactly one of the ethnic groups most affected by the epidemic.
Experts say that African-Americans have very low trust in vaccines due to common memories of historical discrimination and cruel and illegal human experiments. This may hinder the popularization of vaccines and the control of the epidemic in the United States.
A non-profit called COVID Collaborative commissioned a poll company to interview 1,050 African-American and 258 Latino adults across the United States through a questionnaire in early September to study their attitudes and impact on vaccination against the novel coronavirus, and in this The results were announced on March 23.
Polls show that African-Americans also have greater doubts about the safety and efficacy of vaccines and are less inclined to vaccination: even if it is provided free, less than half (48%) of African-Americans are willing to be vaccinated, of which only 18% are “absolutely vaccinated”.
Only 14 percent of African-American respondents believe or basically believe that the vaccine is safe, and 18% believe that the vaccine will work. Latinos are relatively optimistic, reaching 34% and 40% respectively. Sixty-six percent of Latino respondents expressed their willingness to get the vaccine, with 31 percent “absolutely supportive.”
Results released by the Pew Poll Research Center in mid-September showed that 51 percent of American adults were willing to be vaccinated, down 21 percentage points from May this year. Only 32% of adults of African descent are willing to vaccinate, which is the least willing of all ethnic groups.
In the past two weeks, the number of new confirmed cases in the United States has exceeded 1 million consecutively. This week, about 50 million Americans are expected to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, raising concerns that the epidemic will worsen. In the face of this “dark winter”, vaccines have become the last straw for Americans.
At present, three coronavirus vaccines in the United States and the United Kingdom have been announced one after another. Monsef Slauy, the head of the federal government’s vaccine program, revealed that distribution of vaccines can begin as early as December. However, which groups can be the first to be vaccinated is up to the states.
The article said that vaccines for communities of color are particularly important because they are more vulnerable to infection: many African-Americans, Latinos and Asians cannot work from home, have no private cars, and live in crowded houses.
According to the latest statistics of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (mid-August), African-Americans and non-white Latinos are significantly more affected by the epidemic than white and Asian. The data showed that the number of confirmed cases of African descent was 2.6 times that of white people, the hospitalization rate was 4.7 times higher, and the mortality rate was 2.1 times higher.
Michelle Williams, president of Harvard Medical School and co-founder of the COVID-19 Collaboration, admits that the vaccine itself is not life-saving, and the key is people to be willing to vaccinate. Therefore, it is necessary to understand and help overcome doubts about vaccines.
During the outbreak of the epidemic, various conspiracy theories emerged within the United States around the coronavirus vaccine. But experts say that for African-Americans, this skepticism mainly stems from the common memory left by historically discriminated against and inhuman treatment. For example, the American Medical College used the corpses of slaves for anatomical experiments in the past; black women were also used as subjects of research and experiments in gynecology, contraception, etc.
During a meeting between FDA officials and vaccine experts last month, minority concerns about the vaccine were expressed, saying that “no more rats will be treated as mice” and “will not be the first to be vaccinated until they see the data”. Others said, “I really believe that the vaccine is another Tuskegee syphilis trial.”
The infamous Tuskegee syphilis trial took place between 1932 and 1972, during which the U.S. government health department recruited hundreds of African-American farmers in Tuskegee, Alabama, to conduct human experiments and study syphilis. However, in order to dissect the body, the researchers concealed his condition from the subjects, falsely claiming that “free treatment will be provided”. This situation continued for decades even after the popularization of the therapeutic drug panicillin in 1947.
In the end, 128 people died of syphilis and complications, and 19 babies were infected. In 1997, then-U.S. President Clinton publicly apologized for the matter, and the compensation lawsuit has not yet been closed.
The poll above found that the understanding of this tragic history is one of the factors that led African-American respondents to doubt the vaccine. Other factors include ethnic identity, past vaccination experience, partisanship, and age, gender, education level, etc.
Wayne Frederick, president of Howard University, said that ordinary African Americans do not necessarily need to know the details of the Tuskegee experiment.” Their distrust is directed at the American system, government, law enforcement, and this distrust runs through our (African-American) entire community.”