COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Alabama, but help may be on the way. Over 40,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine are expected to come to the Yellowhammer State next week.
Studies have shown throughout the pandemic that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting minority communities. However, many in the Black community appear hesitant to get the vaccine. Researchers believe this is tied to a long-held distrust of the government because of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.
Dr. Gary Gibbons is the director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. He said that is something healthcare providers need to address.
“Particularly in Alabama there is a sensitivity. It's really first acknowledging those as legitimate concerns, that is a part of history, we cannot erase that legacy, but we acknowledge it and indeed recognize that was over 70 years ago,” he said.
Gibbons said he wants to build back that trust to help get through the pandemic.
“We want to be sure that as a physician, I want to write a prescription to someone in one of those communities and be able to look them in the eye and say, 'This was proven to be safe and effective in someone just like you, that has the same experiences that you have and the same conditions you have,'" he said.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says the positivity rate for African Americans is 2.6 times higher than for white people. There is also a concern due to higher rates of co-morbidities that occur in the Black community.