February 19, 2021

Many Black Americans Don’t Trust Vaccines. Here’s Why This Should Be Reconsidered.

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are in the process of becoming available to more people, many Black Americans are hesitant to get vaccinated. There are many reasons for this, including the horrid Tuskegee experiments, which remains one of the most disturbing, darkest chapters of American medical history. Generations of experimentation on Black Americans and dismissal at the hands of medical professionals have left many skeptical of the medical field and vaccines in general. 

A recent study released by the COVID Collaborative, NAACP, and UnidosUS found that only 14% of Black Americans trust that a vaccine will be safe and just 18% trust that it will be effective. A December 2020 poll from the Pew Research Center found that while 71% of Black respondents knew someone who had been hospitalized or died from COVID-19, fewer than half of Black Americans polled said they’d get the vaccine. 

With all that said, it’s understandable that building Black Americans’ trust in vaccines will take time.

What’s Being Done to Give Black Americans Confidence in The Vaccine?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is urging Black Americans hesitant to take the COVID-19 vaccine to trust the process and to understand that one of the scientists leading the development of the vaccine is a Black woman, 34-year-old Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett. 

Black doctors have been involved in every part of the process, from working to increase the number of Black people recruited for clinical trials and evaluating the vaccines’ clinical performance, to ensuring the vaccine works on Black Americans.

Black Americans are concerned about safety and efficacy of the vaccines because of how quickly they were developed. Dr. Fauci wants everyone concerned to know that, though vaccines have traditionally taken years or even decades to develop, advancements in vaccine platform technology have significantly shortened the process without compromising safety or scientific integrity. 

Some people are concerned that pharmaceutical companies and the federal government can’t be trusted to address the safety of vaccines. Dr. Fauci said that both are being advised by independent committees made up of experienced clinicians, scientists, and ethicists, so you can rest assured that they’re safe. 

Can the Vaccine Give You COVID-19?

No. The COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered in the United States don’t use the live virus that causes COVID-19. Keep in mind that it’ll take your body a few weeks to build immunity after getting a COVID-19 vaccination. As a result, it’s possible that you could become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or after being vaccinated.

Will a Vaccination Protect Me from Getting Sick With COVID-19?

Yes. The vaccination works by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, and this protects you from getting sick with COVID-19. Both vaccines available have a 95% efficacy rate

How Does the Vaccine Work?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which are a new type of vaccine that uses a man-made copy of a natural chemical called messenger RNA (mRNA) to produce an immune response. They teach our cells how to make a protein – or even just a part of a protein – that triggers an immune response in our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

Bottom Line, Both Vaccines Are Safe and Effective

The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Pfizer ran tests that included more than 44,000 people. The FDA analysis of the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness on people over the age of 16 has said that it found “no specific safety concerns” that would preclude the vaccine’s use. The Moderna vaccine ran tests that included 30,000 people. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also developed a new tool called v-safe, a new smartphone-based, after vaccination health checker for people who’ve gotten the vaccine. This will provide an additional layer of safety monitoring to increase its ability to rapidly detect any safety issues.

More Questions About COVID-19 Vaccinations?

If you’d like to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines or have questions about the vaccines currently available, visit the Baptist Health COVID-19 Resources page. More information about available vaccines can also be found at the CDC

Next Steps and Useful Resources:

From the Frontline: Your Vaccine Questions Answered [Podcast]
How Do Vaccines Work?
Do I Need the Coronavirus Vaccine If I’ve Already Been Infected?

Learn More.