Cost of Covid: vaccine hesitancy

Being hesitant to take a vaccine is nothing new. Michael Hokanson is the public information officer with the North Central Health District.

“Vaccine hesitancy has been an issue for every vaccine, whether it’s flu or childhood immunizations,” said Hokanson.

And it appears some groups of people are more hesitant than others. In fact, in a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, only 42% of Black participants said they would take the COVID-19 vaccine as compared to 61% of Caucasian participants. Hispanics fell between at 63%.

“People of color are more suspicious, and not trusting of our medical science. Right? Because, because of past history,” said Chester Fontenot, the Director of Africana Studies at Mercer University.

Fontenot says a checkered past with the medical field, like the Tuskegee experiment, is to blame. That was a government sanctioned study that allowed hundreds of Black men to suffer with syphilis unknowingly. It lasted for 40 years, officially ending in the early 1970’s.

That was horrible. It was inhumane. It was very, it was racist, no question about it. But we’re not in 1972. Now, this is 2020,” said Fontenot.

Checks and balances in the medical field, Dr. Fontenot says, should offer at least SOME comfort, and help the community rebuild trust in the government; a community that is getting hit disproportionally hard by COVID-19.

“Because we do have some people who have integrity, who are – who have been involved in this process of producing this vaccine.”

The FDA says it has rigorous  scientific and regulatory processes underway to ensure the vaccine is safe. Still, Hokanson says an informed decision is the best decision.

“Look at all the research that’s going to be put out once a version of the vaccine is approved. Talk with your primary care physician to see what the expectations are and how the vaccine may interact with you,” said Hokanson.

“I do know that when, when I get the call to say that, okay, your demographic is next in line. I’m gonna be near the front of that line,” said Fontenot.