How the COVID-19 vaccine rollout impacts Black America

By: Alyssa Wilson

Shipment of Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine began on Monday after it was given emergency-use authorization on Saturday. 

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said that 100 million shots should be distributed by June and a billion by the end of the year. 

Dr. Jennifer Caudle, a board-certified family medicine physician and an Associate Professor at Rowan University, joined BNC’s Start Your Day on Monday to talk about the vaccine rollout in the Black community. 


RACIAL DISPARITIES IN VACCINE ROLLOUT

According to Caudle, African Americans are not getting the COVID-19 vaccine at the same rates as white Americans. 

In Michigan, a report from February revealed that out of the 1.3 million residents who received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 41.7% were white and only 3.7% were Black. 

In Chicago, the vaccination rate in the city’s majority-Black or Latino communities averaged a five percent vaccination rate while majority-white communities averaged at 13%. 

VACCINE MISTRUST IN BLACK COMMUNITIES

Mistrust of the vaccine in Black communities remains high; a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that a majority of Black Americans have low levels of trust in the health care system. 

Caudle said that systemic and institutional racism still exists in the healthcare system and it must be acknowledged to regain trust. 

She said it is also important to understand that vaccine data proves that it’s safe to take. 

RECENT COVID-19 DATA

“I’m starting to feel optimistic honestly for the first time in a year, but we actually have to still be cautious,” Caudle said. “These numbers can plateau or go back up in the drop of a hat.” 

Despite receiving two doses of the vaccine, she says her behavior has not changed and she recommends people continue to wear a mask, social distance and wash their hands as instructed by the CDC

VACCINE EFFICACY RATES 

The COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have an efficacy rate of about 95% while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is about 66% effective

“Take the vaccine you are able to get,” Dr. Caudle said, citing issues with vaccine supply in the U.S. 

She says the vaccine efficacy rates of the vaccines cannot be compared due to different testing variables. 

VACCINE STUDIES ON CHILDREN 

As a fan of clinical trials, Dr. Caudle says that the only way to know if vaccines are effective is to enroll children in them. 

Although she thinks they are good, she says an issue with clinical trials, in general, is the lack of African American representation in the testing. 

For more BNC coverage of coronavirus, click here

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