The racial gap in Coronavirus infections in the US Capital city is said to have exploded with 80% of those affected said to be from African American community. Vaccine hesitancy fuelled by Christian pastors is believed to be one of the reasons behind this.
A Washington Post report on the issue says:
Black people make up more than 80 percent of coronavirus cases reported in the District in recent days, compared with 46 percent late last year, a disparity that D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) highlighted in a call with Ward 8 community leaders Tuesday.
The share of new infections involving Black people spiked sharply in the city starting around mid-April, when the coronavirus vaccine became widely available to D.C. residents. The share of cases involving White people, meanwhile, has fallen below 10 percent, compared with 33 percent of cases in December.
The District’s population is about 45 percent Black and 42.5 percent White, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. But White residents have been significantly more likely to get vaccinated, due to higher rates of both hesitancy and access issues for Black Washingtonians.
“I got a troubling statistic from Dr. Nesbitt today that the percent of people of color — Black and Brown people — who are getting covid has gone up,” Bowser told the Anacostia Coordinating Council, referring to D.C. health director LaQuandra Nesbitt. “And that is a direct function of vaccination.”
“I am terrified that this thing could become a Black and Brown disease, and that it will stay in our community for a long, long time,” Reed Tuckson, the founder of the Black Coalition Against Covid-19, told the Anacostia Coordinating Council during the Zoom call. “If we don’t get our vaccination rates up, we’re going to be in a tough situation.”
Listing down reasons for vaccine hesitancy among Black Americans, Bloomberg Quint says:
Over the past few months, you’ve probably heard a lot about the Tuskegee experiment. That was a study that began in 1932 in which hundreds of Black men with syphilis were told they were being treated for “bad blood.” In fact, researchers wanted to study what would happen if their syphilis went untreated. The study ran for 40 years—in that time, the men never received the proper treatment to cure their illness.
The study has become shorthand for why people of color may hesitate to trust vaccines, even though Black Americans have died at twice the rate of White Americans due to Covid-19, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prvention data.
The disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on people of color has meant many vaccine outreach efforts have focused on Black communities. But skepticism runs deep among Black Americans for good reason: Tuskegee is just one episode in a long history of institutionalized discrimination, generational trauma and outright racism in the U.S.
While experts stated that this could partially be due to certain barriers such as history of vaccination movements, limited transportation, and challenges in getting time off from work among others, however, the role of evangelicals who fuel vaccine hesitancy can’t be overlooked.
“The United States has a long history of anti-vaccination movements, many of which are closely linked to evangelical groups. Such groups have come in the way of the country’s Covid-19 inoculation drive too. As a result, shots are going unused in many parts of the US” says The Scroll.
Pew Research studies also show that there is a higher vaccine hesitancy among evangelicals. Father James Altman, a priest in La Crosse distributed pamphlets that warned parishioners not to be anyone’s “guinea pig” for an “experimental” injection. Altman is featured in a video in which he decried public health restrictions imposed during the pandemic.
“You’ve all heard the horror stories, all because godless vermin fed us fear and instituted godless, Nazi-esque controls on all of us and on those we love,” Altman said. Later in the sermon, Altman says that double masking, as promoted by Anthony Fauci, is “godlessness” that is “damnable in the hottest fires of hell”.
(Featured Image Source: The Washington Post)