Mistrust of government leading Latino and Black Americans to be anxious about vaccine, survey shows
While both Latinos and Black Americans have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, a survey commissioned by the COVID Collaborative reveals that a history of racist medical abuse and a mistrust of government is leading both populations to be anxious about taking a vaccine, The Washington Post reports. About 48% of Black people said they would probably or definitely take the vaccine if offered, while 66% of Latinos said they would, according to the survey.
“On one hand in this country, you have the anti-vaxxers and the unfounded disinformation they push,” Johns Hopkins University sociology and history of epidemic response expert Alexandre White said in the report. “But what you see from minorities is a hesitancy that is quite rooted in historical reality.” Advocates now hope that the survey results—and an understanding of deeply painful and violent history—can help lead to building important and lifesaving trust among these communities.
“For many Black people, the lack of trust in the coronavirus vaccine is rooted in history, some experts said,” The Washington Post reported. “The bodies of Black people who were enslaved were used by medical schools for anatomy dissections. Black women were used for gynecologic research, experimentation and sterilization, White noted.”
This medical abuse and torture isn’t something of yesteryear—it’s happening right now. This very month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attempted to deport immigrants who alleged mistreatment by a gynecologist accused of forcibly sterilizing women detained at a privately operated immigration detention camp in Georgia. “The women do not appear to be consenting to getting a hysterectomy and they are not receiving translation services when complicated medical information is being conveyed to them,” Prism’s Tina Vasquez reported early in September.
“For Latino people, similar factors were the main predictors in vaccine acceptance,” The Washington Post reported. Latinos have similarly been devastated by the novel coronavirus pandemic, leading to advocates calling for essential workers like farm laborers to be prioritized for the vaccination alongside health workers. But, again, the community is fearful of government that’s actively sought to punish working families for accessing services by implementing policies like the discriminatory “public charge” rule.
“Our community is not trusting systems right now,” Luz Gallegos, director of advocacy group TODEC, recently told The Desert Sun. “The most important piece is bringing awareness and the education that their information with any health provider is confidential.”
In a policy brief recommending that farmworkers be prioritized along with healthcare workers for the vaccine, a coalition of advocacy groups recommended “that state officials create a team composed of community-based organizations, as well as experts in community outreach, communications and data, to provide advice on culturally and linguistically appropriate methods of outreach and communication to farmworkers,” The Desert Sun continued. A separate study cited by The Post notes “that African Americans were twice as likely to trust a messenger from their own racial group compared with a White counterpart.”
“It’s not having a vaccine that saves lives, it’s people actually getting vaccinated,” COVID Collaborative cofounder Michelle A. Williams told The Post. “For that to happen, we need to understand why so many are hesitant and help overcome that.”