The “I AM BIO” podcast returns with an important topic – how to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.
Phyllis Arthur, BIO’s VP of Infectious Diseases & Diagnostics Policy, speaks with Cindy, Angel, and Maureen, three average Americans with three different perspectives on the COVID-19 vaccines, and Dr. Reed Tuckson, founder of the Black Coalition Against COVID-19, about public concerns with the vaccines, including the speed of vaccine development, and access.
While Florida schoolteacher Cindy refuses to get vaccinated, health instructor Angel has different concerns, “Being African-American, I also questioned why it felt like they were pushing it on the African-American community as well as the less fortunate.”
“During the AIDS epidemic, the number one issue we faced was the distrust,” said Dr. Tuckson. “That was our biggest paralytic element to overcome for positive community action. How is it possible that 40 years later the number one issue that we are facing with this COVID pandemic in the African-American community is the issue of distrust?”
"How is it possible that 40 years later the number one issue that we are facing with this COVID pandemic in the African-American community is the issue of distrust?”
Dr. Tuckson draws on history to help explain vaccine hesitancy in the Black community – slavery, Jim Crow laws, and the Tuskegee syphilis experiment have instilled a deep mistrust in these communities. However, he calls on organizations to step up in the face of this challenge to demonstrate that science is our friend, not our enemy.
Maureen, a school administrator from Massachusetts didn’t struggle with hesitancy, but she did struggle with bureaucracy.
“It was a lot more complicated than it needed to be,” she said. Maureen tried many different ways to get an appointment through the state’s scheduling site, including logging on after midnight to schedule an appointment. Finally, with the help of her community, she and the staff at her school were all able to get an appointment to get the vaccine.
“If we learn anything from this pandemic,” says Dr. Tuckson, “it is going to be that we now understand that the relationship between human beings who share the same time and space is a sacred, moral and ethical responsibility. And there are duties that accompany that.”
Dr. Tuckson’s plan to get over “the hesitation hump” is simple: change the environment. Care for each other and understand how everyone is connected.
For more information on the available vaccines, please visit covidvaccinefacts.org, a website that addresses the most pressing vaccine questions.
If you can, schedule a vaccine for your neighbor, help them get to a vaccine site, or just talk to them about vaccine safety.