Vaccination hesitation continues for some young black Americans. Amara Walker explores why
“Don’t take it as when people don’t want to take the vaccine as rebels,” she said.
The 21-year-old Atlanta native is skeptical of vaccines, largely because of the legacy of Tuskegee’s syphilis study, she says. Yet some experts say that’s not the only reason some younger people may still hesitate months after vaccines become available.
Despite the research she’s done, Britt is worried about rare potential side effects from vaccines, such as myocarditis, a condition that causes inflammation of the heart.
“But how do I know that this small percentage won’t be me?” ” she asks.
Britt’s continued mistrust comes as Covid-19 deaths have declined dramatically in the United States. Average daily deaths are less than a tenth of what they were at the height of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University – but nearly 300 people still die from Covid-19 every day in the United States.
Britt, who works at an Atlanta record label, says she doesn’t trust the vaccine and instead trusts her own immune system.
“I would rather just go take vitamin C or make sure I eat healthier just to make sure that on my end my body is better off fighting rather than just taking the vaccine.”
Britt claims she knows Covid-19 is real and that she continues to wear a mask at work and around her friends and family.
But it is the state of mind of young people like Britt that worries the experts.
“There’s a good chance you won’t get so sick. However, even people with mild illness can have long-lasting symptoms,” said CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen.
“There are people who have lost their hair, people who continue to have a loss of taste or smell. People who have difficulty concentrating memory, deficiencies, nerve and muscle pain,” she declared.
CDC researchers met last week to discuss the very rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis that have been reported in most recently vaccinated young men and adolescents.
They concluded that the benefits of mRNA vaccines far outweigh the risks. Wen explained that even if you get myocarditis, it is likely that you will recover from it within a few days, whereas if you do contract Covid-19, you could get very sick and have lasting consequences.
“There is this ubiquitous narrative that young people don’t get sick and die from the coronavirus, which just isn’t true,” she said.
Wen has taken care of young people who have difficulty concentrating, who suffer from chronic fatigue and even walking in the neighborhood because they have had Covid-19.
Intensify awareness raising efforts
Britt lives in Georgia – a state with some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country and where Covid-19 deaths were among the highest last week.
As the White House partners with organizations and private companies to encourage adults under 30 to get vaccinated, some companies like Ax, a male grooming company, are holding events in places like a brewery. of Atlanta to attract the youngest.
“These lower rates may be due in part to reluctance to immunize, but they may also be due to inequalities in access to vaccines,” Dr. Lisa Cooper, founder of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, told CNN. . “Many South African Americans live in rural areas with limited access to health facilities. In addition, many people may have other stressors related to housing, food or job insecurity, which can prevent them from getting the vaccine.
Julius Thomas is the CEO and founder of the non-profit organization “The People’s Uprising” and friend of Britt. She also volunteers with the group.
Ironically, the nonprofit is planning to run vaccination campaigns this month to target people like Britt.
Thomas hopes Britt will eventually return.
“We’re really pushing that hard because we care a lot about you,” he says.
But Britt is unwavering in his skepticism.
Although she knows the black community continues to die from Covid-19 at a higher rate than any other group, she says it is not known if and when she will one day be able to get the vaccine.
“I just need to make sure it’s been around for a while and I know exactly what the side effects are.”
CNN’s Jen Christensen and Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.