By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
Last year at the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic, African American civic, political, and religious leaders were engaged in a campaign to encourage Black people to get tested.
Earlier this year as the national vaccination effort got underway, the nation saw a surge in people receiving vaccines. Now it is slowed and the same leaders are worried about the low participation rate among African Americans.
As of June 23, 54 percent of the population had received at least one dose of a vaccine. Some
46 percent of Americans have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
State and national health officials are tracking the vaccination trends along two tracks: the rate of people who have received at “least one of the two doses” as required by Pfizer and Moderna vaccination protocols. The second is who has the second and is now deemed “fully vaccinated” after taking the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the Johnson and Johnson vaccine shot which requires one to fully protect.
Nationally, 31.03% have received at least one dose. and 29.2% have received full vaccination.
Among African Americans nationally only 22.83 percent have received at least one dose. Meanwhile, only 20.07 percent of Black Americans are fully vaccinated.
African Americans make up 12 percent of the national population.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, 15% of the state’s Black population has received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. Fourteen percent are fully vaccinated.
On the other hand, data indicates that 58% of the White population has been vaccinated in Virginia with at least one dose of the vaccine and 59.9 % are fully vaccinated.
Gaylene Kanoyton is President of Celebrate Healthcare which advocates for Virginians to sign up for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). She is using that platform to organize weekly 30-minute Get Out the Vaccine,
(GOTV) virtual community meetings of clergy and state and local health officials seeking to drum up support among Blacks to get vaccinated on the Peninsula.
Residents are invited to participate in the meetings to receive the latest information such as accessing the statewide system to register for a vaccine and locate a site where shots are being administered through Vaccinate.Virginia.gov. or 877-829-4682. For more information call 757 287-0277.
One factor which is stifling African American confidence in being vaccinated continues to be the longstanding historic mistrust of the medical industry, based on real and perceived disrespect.
“Also there are many Black people who are believing in these myths which are being circulated,” said Kanoyton. “They are seeing them on the internet and passing them peer to peer. We need a myth buster campaign to dispel the myths about a chip in the vaccine, it will make you infertile or the vaccine is the COVID-19 Virus.”
The Tuskegee Syphilis experiment still resonates with African Americans, she said.
Kanoyton said, “Some people believe if you have had the virus, you are immune. That is definitely not true.”
“We have to dispel all of these myths so people can get the vaccine,” she said. “We must pull back the curtain and reveal the importance of being vaccinated rather than dying.”