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Medical professionals address COVID-19 vaccine skepticism in the Black community

Posted at 1:07 AM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 06:51:19-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Despite the CDC's assurance COVID-19 vaccines are safe, medical professionals are working to address concerns from skeptical Hoosiers. While the skepticism is widespread, it's particularly high among the African American community.

Funisha Matlock is incredibly skeptical of the vaccines.

"Nothing would make me get it, honestly," Matlock said. "I don't want to be a guinea pig. I don't know how my body is going to react to it. It just makes me nervous. Makes me scared."

A Pew Research Poll found 42% of Black Americans are willing to get vaccinated despite 71% knowing someone who died or has been hospitalized from COVID-19. That's why many Black healthcare workers are stepping up to build vaccine trust in their community.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams was in Indianapolis addressing the issue last week. Now, Dr. Curtis Wright, President and CEO of Eskenazi Medical Group, is speaking out. WRTV asked him what messaging he thinks is going to work to convince under-served communities to take the vaccine when it's available to them.

"I think that's a difficult question and the first step is to acknowledge what has happened in the past," Dr. Wright said.

From Henrietta Lacks' cells being used without her consent for cancer research, to the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment which lasted for 40 years, studying the progression of syphilis in Black men without their consent, Wright says those wrongs have been acknowledged and much has been done to prevent anything like that from happening again.

"That was an injustice, but it would be such an injustice for people to not get the vaccine, particularly minority individuals," Wright said. "I implore everyone when it's your time, please get vaccinated. It's safe. I just got it."

If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, you're encouraged to talk to your health care provider.