In the United States, the black population remains particularly suspicious of vaccines

This mistrust stems from a long history of racist medical experiences and unequal access to care.

Decades of discriminatory medical practices are now having an impact on the US vaccination campaign . While black Americans affected by Covid-19 are about twice as likely to die from it as white people, health officials say a significant number of black people in the United States do not intend to to get vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in February that 46.5% of black people in America do not intend to get the vaccine, compared to 32.4% of Hispanics and 30.3 % of white people. However, the proportion of individuals ready to receive a dose of vaccine has increased among these three groups since the start of the pandemic.

The propensity to be vaccinated is intrinsically linked to the degree of confidence in medical institutions and in the treatments they offer. However, the black American population shows great mistrust of the authorities and health institutions, born of discriminatory practices.

Symptoms of black people taken less seriously

Black people seeing a doctor in the United States are less likely to have their symptoms taken seriously, or to receive adequate treatment, than others, experts say. Mammograms of black women are therefore less often examined by breast cancer specialists rather than general radiologists, according to a 2012 study from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

According to a survey by the NGO Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and The Undefeated website, 7 in 10 African Americans believe that people in need of medical care are treated differently depending on their race or ethnicity. This distrust is partly caused by unequal access to care for the black population, intensified by the pandemic, recalls the magazine TIME .

The mistrust of African Americans is also fueled, as for many people reluctant to be vaccinated, by the speed with which vaccines against Covid-19 have been developed, tells TIME .

This might explain why fewer non-white Americans volunteered for clinical trials of vaccines. Of the 350,000 people who have registered online for a clinical trial linked to the coronavirus in the United States, only 10% are black or Latin, told TIME Dr. Jim Kublin, executive director of operations for the Covid Prevention Network -19. However, these two groups represent a third (31.9%) of the population of the United States, according to the 2019 census . These are also the categories of the population that have suffered more than half of the cases of Covid-19 recorded in the United States.

“Dangerous, unauthorized experiments” on African Americans

The mistrust of black populations also stems from a long history of systemic racism, TIME recalls . Many KFF and The Undefeated survey respondents cited the infamous Tuskegee study . In this city of Alabama, scientists from the US government began in 1932 to study the effects of syphilis on black men. 600 people were subjected to examinations for 40 years, without providing them with treatment, in order to observe the evolution of the infection. Many of them died as a result of the study, which was released to the press in 1972. But Tuskegee’s case is far from an isolated incident.

“Numerous dangerous, non-consensual, and non-therapeutic experiments have been carried out on African Americans, and have been amply documented, at least since the 18th century,” writes Harriet Washington in her book Medical Apartheid (“Medical Apartheid”) , published in 2006.

“It’s just fear. The fear of vaccines, of being guinea pigs, something like that. That’s what black people are afraid of,” John Jones III, a neighborhood animator in Los Angeles, told Agence France Presse (AFP). “Suddenly, I am told to take this” drug “out of nowhere? It’s a fight” to persuade oneself, adds the 40-year-old mediator, who specifies that he has not yet decided whether it would be done vaccinate.

5.4% of vaccine doses injected into blacks

According to data released by the CDC, only 5.4% of vaccine doses were injected into African-Americans during the first month of the vaccination campaign, when they represent 12.5% ​​of the American population. . Faced with these disparities, several organizations, public and private, have stepped up their efforts to promote vaccines to African-American communities, and to ensure that they receive a fair share of the doses. “If we do not vaccinate people who live where the disease is most present, then we allow the disease to continue to spread and continue to mutate,” Darrell Gaskin, professor of public health at AFP, told AFP. Johns Hopkins University.

A little over a year since the first case of Covid-19 was detected in the United States, the disease has hit African Americans particularly hard. According to the Covid Tracking Project , launched by the media The Atlantic, 161 black people out of 100,000 have died of the disease, the highest ratio of ethnic groups present in the United States, the most bereaved country in the world in absolute terms, which is expected to soon reach half a million deaths.

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