Past and present U.S. Surgeons General, speaking at the National Medical Association’s virtual annual convention, said vaccine hesitancy in the Black community could worsen the disparate impact of COVID-19.
Current Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, who moderated the online discussion Saturday, said he believes that a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready by the end of this year or early next.
“But a safe and effective vaccine means nothing if people don’t actually get vaccinated,” Adams said.
Recent public opinion polls found that just under 50% of those surveyed said that they are either “unlikely” to get a COVID- 19 vaccine or “uncertain” about taking one if it were available today, said Vivek Murthy, MD, who served as surgeon general under President Barack Obama.
Studies have shown that African Americans and Latinx people were more skeptical of the measles vaccine, according to the Pew Research Center.
The Black community hasn’t forgotten the infamous Tuskegee study and remains distrustful of the medical establishment, noted Louis Sullivan, MD, secretary of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush and is founding dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.
Partnering with Churches, Celebrities
Adams asked his predecessors — also including David Satcher, MD, surgeon general in the Clinton administration — what can be done to increase buy-in for a COVID-19 vaccine among African Americans.
Murthy encouraged partnerships with “messengers” inside the communities that health professionals are trying to reach.
“We’ve got to do that right now,” said Murthy, even before a vaccine has been developed.
Satcher said that during his tenure, the government partnered with a national group of Black churches to promote immunizations in children before age 2 — rates of which were then below 30% overall, and even lower in the Black community.
“People are not going to necessarily always trust us, but they might trust the church,” he said. “So that’s what we took advantage of, and it worked out quite well.”…
This is not just about Tuskegee and it’s not confined to history. If the medical complex ever admitted the racist/eugenics implications of their ridiculously low vitamin D RDA they might have slightly more credibility. But also a great deal less revenue.
Regarding Satcher, he has a history of aiding the medical targeting of black people and women. But he’s black so it’s ok.