Black Health Experts Urge Black Americans to Get Vaccinated Despite Inequitable U.S. Rollout

Both vaccine hesitancy and lack of access are cause for concern

On February 7, 60 Black health experts published an open letter in the New York Times opinion section urging Black Americans to get vaccinated for Covid-19. It acknowledged the hesitancy of some Black people to get vaccinated due to “absolutely warranted” historical distrust of health institutions, and it sought to dispel misinformation circulating in Black communities that called the safety of the vaccines into question.

“We have reviewed the research and feel confident the research was done correctly,” wrote the experts, who are all part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. They emphasized that the vaccination trials involved a diverse group of participants, including Black Americans.

“While we understand why there might be hesitancy about getting vaccinated, we need to weigh the risks of taking the vaccine versus being infected by the virus and the potential of health problems, hospitalization, even death.” Read the rest of the letter below:

Writing at Level this week, Michael Arceneaux acknowledged the New York Times letter but wondered if the experts’ concerns about the spread of misinformation, though warranted, were “moot” amid the inequitable rollout occurring in the United States.

“One look at how Black people are faring trying to get the vaccine tells you that we’ve got more pressing concerns,” he wrote. Racial inequalities in vaccine access have been documented since the rollout began in the United States. As Dana G Smith wrote in Momentum in early February, “In virtually every state with reported vaccination rates broken down by race, Black Americans have received significantly fewer doses than White Americans.”

Arcenaux ends by questioning whether vaccine hesitancy among Black Americans is what health experts should be concerned about. “The media has done plenty of work highlighting the hesitancy Black folks have about the vaccine — but not enough on how the rollout is giving us even more reasons to distrust the system,” he writes.

Read the rest of his story on Level:

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Yasmin Tayag

Yasmin Tayag

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Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog. Senior editor at Future Human by OneZero. Previously: science at Inverse, genetics at NYU.