Some black community members share concerns over new COVID-19 vaccines

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Now that two COVID-19 vaccines have been approved and are rolling out, there’s conversations about concerns if some people will take it or not.

One particular community talking, African Americans. It’s been an ongoing debate on what to trust and what not to trust.

There’s a lot of distrust, especially from the Black community.

“I’m not getting in,” Little Rock native, Malinka Tatum said. “My kid not getting it.”

A sense of hope is given to some, as vaccines start to roll out but not everyone is convinced.

Tatum is just one of the many who is willing to speak publicly about this. She said she wants to see long term data for the COVID-19 vaccine, especially since this vaccine was made so quick.

“My momma always told us. We are nobody’s lab rats,” Tatum said.

Dr. Johnathan Goree, UAMS Director of Chronic Pain Division and Associate Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, said there’s a long history of mistrust when it comes to the medical community and African Americans.

“Underrepresented communities have a history with medical field that hasn’t always been positive,” Dr. Goree said.

It’s the history of unethical practices that leaves the community concerned.

“They were used for medical experimentation. Even into the 20th century when you can look at the most famous, the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment,” UALR Adjunct History Instructor, Dr. Simon Hosken said.

History shows that during the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment — The American Public Health Service researchers studied 400 Black men who already had Syphilis but they were never told they were sick nor treated for it.

Dr. Hosken said African Americans were never told they would get free health care and that simply wasn’t the case.

“They were used as guinea pigs,” Hosken said.

Some of those men later died, but history goes beyond this trial.

“We have known events like Henry’s, Tuskegee trials, Dr. Sims who did surgeries on slaves, but also many patients have had individuals experiences that have shaped their perspective,” Dr. Goree said.

There’s other examples.

“Seemingly going into a hospital,” Dr. Hosken said. “They’re going to be treated differently, and by different I mean worse than.”

Despite the past, experts said this vaccine is safe. Earlier this month U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, a Black man, took it himself.

There is hope that the minority communities can build trust before the vaccine is available to the general public. Dr. Goree encourages anyone with concerns or questions to ask a healthcare worker that they trust.

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