Surgeon General Jerome Adams addressed the skepticism of the COVID-19 vaccines among black Americans during his interview on ABC’s This Week. Adams focused on the health disparities among the demographic and his efforts to promote “medical equity.” After a brief mention of the Tuskegee Study, Adams continued on about people needing to “walk the talk,” reminding viewers that he received the vaccination and is confident in the data surrounding it.
It’s interesting how we are allowed to talk about health disparities among blacks but we can never fully address the concerns of said communities. In light of these new vaccine recommendations, Americans have yet to hear a full-on explanation of what happened in that harrowing 1932s study that has many black people reluctant to accept the new medical guidance. So for Adams to gloss over it could be offensive to the many who were either impacted by this incident or are sensitive to it.
These concerns are hardly ever met with understanding and acceptance of the fact that everyone doesn’t agree. It will take more than being a black face on Live TV and getting a shot to convince a portion of the population to make an important health decision. It will take more than a black woman being involved in the development of the vaccine to get people to take interest. What these health experts and officials like Adams need to understand is that pandering doesn’t always work and can sometimes backfire. People deserve concrete answers about what goes in the vaccine, who was tested (and if people of a particular demographic participated with favorable results), all potential side effects and why they believe a fast-tracked vaccination should be widely accepted.
Thankfully, organizations like the America’s Frontline Doctor’s had a conversation with black Americans during their Atlanta summit in December. Each of the not-for-profit organization’s members attending the event offered clinical insight to concerned Americans who voiced their concerns about the impact of medical injustices on black families. Stressing that they are not anti-vaccinations, the AFLDS members agreed that additional and continued study is needed on the newly released COVID-19 vaccines.
If black America is to have a conversation about the vaccines and medical racism, it needs to be a balanced and open discussion complete with the pros and cons of making very important health decisions. This truly allows for an person to make the best decision for themselves, not based on groupthink, herd mentality, media blitzes or political pressure. The real crime would be not giving people the liberty to choose for themselves without having all the information they need first. To dismiss concerns and keep vital health information from a group of people based on the color of their skin could be viewed as a form of medical racism indeed.