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COVID-19 vaccine skepticism high among African Americans

Posted at 5:06 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 21:28:46-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — As a COVID-19 vaccine gets closer to being rolled out there remains a lot of questions among communities of color, especially for African Americans.

A recent survey revealed that African Americans were the least likely group to get the vaccine when it becomes available, ahead of the FDA's Thursday decision.

The wait for a COVID-19 vaccine may not be much longer but don’t expect local Akiko Cooks to jump at the chance to get one.

“Quite frankly I don’t. A lot of us don’t trust the government,” she said.

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She lives in the northwest and doesn’t trust the vaccine. Cooks say much of this stems from historical research abuse, like the Tuskegee Experiment, where Black men were treated as lab rats during a study on syphilis.

“The trust has been completely broken between the Black community and the United States government. We can never assume that our best interest is a top priority for them,” Cooks said.

A recent AP survey showed 24% of Black Americans polled would take the vaccine with 40% saying they won’t.

Dr. Anthony Fauci addressed those concerns in a talk hosted by the National Urban League on Tuesday. He acknowledged the fraught history of Black Americans in medical research and says trust needs to be built. He says Black voices have been a part of the vaccine development.

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“So, the first thing you might want to say to my African American brothers and sisters is that the vaccine you’re going to be taking was developed by an African American woman. That is just a fact, and it’s just some of the things I don’t think people fully appreciate,” he said.

Cooks says she doesn’t oppose others in her community deciding to take the vaccine for themselves. But she says many people including herself aren’t convinced by Dr. Fauci’s assurances.

“He’s a salesman and he’s selling us the vaccine and telling us what we want to hear. Again, the trust has been broken and we can’t believe anything he says or what the government says, especially when it comes to Black people and health care,” she said.

Medical experts say the best way to build trust in the vaccine is through word of mouth from trusted doctors in communities of color, along with effective outreach.