NAACP: Black Alabamians concerned about COVID-19 vaccine safety

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — With so much positive news about vaccines, not everyone will have immediate access. In addition to availability issues, recent studies show many people don’t even trust in a COVID-19 drug, especially among minority groups.

The Alabama NAACP said skepticism is prevalent.

The COVID-19 vaccine, when available, will be rolled out in phases.

The Alabama NAACP is concerned about access for all Alabamians, specifically those who have no way to travel to larger cities for the vaccine.

“There’s not going to be a CVS or Walgreens or a hospital right down the street from them,” said Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP.

He said he believes the long-term challenge is going to be equity. In particular, access to the vaccine in impoverished, Black communities.

Simelton proposed setting up clinics in trusted facilities within those communities.

“Set up in a local church where everybody goes in the Black community, to make sure that people in that community receive the vaccine,” he said.

That would likely take some planning because the vaccine candidates all require a temperature-controlled environment.

In a recent study, the NAACP, alongside the COVID Collaborative, gathered data from 1,050 Black adults and 258 Latinx adults. According to that survey, only 14 percent of Black participants trusted the vaccine was safe.

Simelton said Black Alabamians’ skepticism as it relates to government and medical research has been passed down through generations, notably beginning in the 1930s and lasting through the ’70s. This was a period when Black men in Tuskegee participated in a syphilis study. It was later discovered researchers purposely withheld treatment for the disease.

“They let them suffer and of course, many of them died from this disease because they did not get proper treatment,” Simelton said.

The Alabama NAACP is calling for the federal government and pharmaceutical companies to be 100 percent transparent about trials and studies in hopes of alleviating worry.

“We want transparency in the effectiveness of the drug, we want transparency in any side effects,” Simelton said.

He said it’s going to take a village to educate people in marginalized communities, and it will take even more effort to make the vaccine accessible to those who want or need it in those areas.

But it’s work that must be done.


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