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Rebuilding Black Trust For The COVID-19 Vaccine


Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021

More than 463,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.

For perspective, more Americans have died amid this pandemic than during World War II, the deadliest warin human history.

While the coronavirus pandemic has devastated America, its impact has been disproportionate. Black Americans are almost three times as likely to die from COVID-19 as white people, according to the CDC.

Despite that figure, many Black Americans are skeptical of taking a vaccine.

From a history of medical experimentation on enslaved Americans to a period when Black men in Tuskegee, Alabama, went purposefully untreated for syphilis in the name of "scientific research" to a white doctor sampling Henrietta Lacks’ cancer cells without her consent only to eventually use those cells to generate billions in pharmaceutical development, there is a justified hesitation when it comes to injections from the federal government.

Still, some Black doctors are leading the charge in developing trust of the vaccine for all Americans, and the most recent polls find the number of Americans who want the vaccine is growing, even among people of color.

We sit down with a physician, a professor and a reporter to learn the reasons why so many Americans are skeptical of the vaccine and what is being done to rebuild that trust.

Correction: During today's show, Mike Collins wrongly conflated the Tuskegee Airmen with the Tuskegee "syphilis experiment." The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of decorated, Black military pilots that fought in World War II. The Tuskegee "syphilis experiment," conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service, was a period when Black men in Tuskegee, Alabama, went purposefully untreated for syphilis in the name of "scientific research."


Dr. Robert Drummond, lead clinician and director of laboratories at Montebello Urgent Care Center

Dr. Zinobia Bennefield, assistant professor of sociology at UNC Charlotte

Alexandra Watts, WFAE Report for America corps member

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Jesse Steinmetz is Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.