By Jackie Hampton,
On Monday, about 20 Mississippi African-American ministers gathered at New Hope Baptist Church to publically get the COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to encourage those that are reluctant to get their shots.
Even though there are many individuals in Mississippi that are frustrated because they have not been able to make appointments to receive the vaccine, there are others that are hesitant to even take it, especially African Americans.
Fueled by a history of distrust, it has been reported by various news outlets that many African Americans have a fear of taking the vaccine. According to a late summer poll by the Kaiser Family foundation and The Undefeated, 70% of black Americans believe that people are treated unfairly based on race or ethnicity when they seek medical care, whereas some just want to wait and feel sure that the vaccine is safe.
One such individual is Christopher Winters, president & CEO of Chris Winters Construction, LLC. “I am not planning to get a shot just yet due to the vaccines being new to the market. In the past it has taken drug companies years of R & D along with numerous amounts of clinical trials just to get a product submitted to the FDA for approval,” Winters said. “We just need to continue to monitor the current volunteers for the vaccines and not rush into a situation with a drug we really have not had the time to research the possible long term side effects, or its effectiveness in protecting us against the virus.”
Though not yet eligible to receive the vaccine, graphic artist Marcus Johnson, who practices safety guidelines of social distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing when in public asked, “Why do I need a solution for a problem I am not having?’ Johnson went on to say he needs more time because the vaccine was rushed and he needs more evidence that there are no issues associated with the vaccine.
Jerry Young, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church and president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. was amongst the pastors who received his vaccine along with first lady Helen Young. He said, “There is no other time that I can remember when it is more important for leaders to lead by example in order to insure the safety, security and health of our community.
Wanda Lovell, though not African-American, said, “Two weeks ago my perception of receiving a COVID vaccine was one of fear. I have a medical history that includes allergic reactions to antibiotics on three different spectrums. Today I am less afraid of receiving the vaccine as the allergic reactions do seem to be small in number and most are controlled, however, I would prefer to receive the Moderna vaccine because it seems to have less chance of producing an anaphylaxis reaction.
Andrea McDaniel, an African-American female, has a strong mistrust of physicians. She said, “Doctors are prescribing us medicine which is poison, and are injecting our infants with poison. I am against the COVID vaccine, because I am looking to heal my body through the holistic approach, which is using herbs and food I consume, and not using medicine AKA poison.”
McDaniel said COVID -19 came and took the world by storm. She sees it as another way for the government to make money. She said, “Just think about how much money they have made by having consumers buy masks to cover their faces. Now they have really outsmarted us with the vaccine, because they know insurance companies will automatically pay for it.”
McDaniel, a resident of Edwards, MS, said, “The Spanish flu caused a worldwide pandemic just like COVID-19 but It took the pharmaceutical companies almost 20 years to ‘perfect’ a vaccine. Since I have a feeling of the vaccine being rushed, not trusting the doctors and having a holistic view on medicine, I will not be taking the vaccine.”
Dr. Claude Brunson, executive director of the Mississippi Medical Association, said “We do know there is hesitancy in the African-American community to take the vaccine for a number of reasons. We also know that the black church has always been important in the African-American community, the place where African Americans have gone for solace, refuge and advice from their faith leaders.”
Brunson says that some of the hesitancy comes from past experiences such as the Tuskegee Study when public health officials, including the CDC, studied untreated syphilis in African-American men and never gave them the cure when it became available. Brunson said that we have to recognize and address these concerns and that the event at New Hope, sponsored by the Mississippi Health Department and the Mississippi Medical Association, was a step in the right direction.
Young said, “This virus is ravaging our community and it is critical that our community join the war on this virus by wearing masks, practicing social distancing, washing our hands and being vaccinated. That is why I called all of the Baptist State Convention presidents throughout Mississippi together to collectively, not simply declare that we should receive the vaccine, but to demonstrate that we should be vaccinated. By receiving the vaccine ourselves, we aim to show how critically important the vaccine is in bringing an end to this unprecedented pandemic.”