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Experts explain skepticism behind COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine
Posted at 6:24 AM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 07:24:33-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two polls show confidence in a vaccine for COVID-19 is low among Black Americans.

According to a STAT-Harris poll from October, only 43% of Black Americans said they would take a vaccine if it became available.

In September, a Pew-Research poll reported only a third of Black Americans would get the vaccine.

In Kansas City, confidence is also low among some people.

“Comments we get from them is, this hasn’t been tested and they want to use us as guinea pigs and this is why there’s such a recruitment," Dr. Otis Latimer with Swope Health explained.

These opinions may be based on history.

“The African American community has suffered from many injustices based on research," Jannette Berkley-Patton said.

Berkley-Patton is a professor of biomedical and health informatics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.

She said one historical example of the injustices African Americans have suffered for research is the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

According to the CDC, from 1932 to 1972, the US Public Health Service withheld adequate treatment from a group of poor Black men who had syphilis so the government agency could better understand the disease.

Berkley-Patton added there are plenty of modern examples of injustice that fuel mistrust from Black Americans.

"We know from national data that African Americans tend to get lesser access to health care. African Americans tend to have lesser quality of care when they do seek care and that also there can be many issues with mistrust around the medical system due to patient, provider communication that tends to be of lesser quality for African Americans as well," she said.

Coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on people of color, killing many.

Doctor Latimer said he's trying to convince his patients to change their minds on a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I try to explain to them we have to get involved in these testing pieces from the FDA to have a good enough representation of our population to see if the vaccine is safe," he said.

Latimer is also urging people to get vaccinated for other viruses, such as influenza, in an effort to stay healthy.

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