ORLANDO, Fla. – As COVID-19 vaccines are given to frontline health care workers in Central Florida, a new study is taking a look at vaccine hesitancy.
The study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that African-Americans are among the groups that have the least confidence in a vaccine, followed by Hispanic and white adults.
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News 6 spoke with an infectious disease specialist from Orange Blossom Family Health who said many of his Black patients said they don’t want the vaccine. He said the reasons include lack of trust, history and lack of access to medical systems.
“The medical history of this country, they have disparities, and they are looking at that and they’re like, ‘No thank you,’” Dr. Francoeur Cadet said.
Cadet said he’s been working to build vaccine trust in the African-American community.
“The question is would you rather have COVID, which can lead to hospitalization and compilation, or would you rather have a vaccine that can prevent you from having COVID?” Cadet asked.
He said the side effects of the vaccine include symptoms such as headaches, body aches and fatigue.
Cadet said that as a health care worker, he’s taking the vaccine Monday after reading the data.
Pastor Stovelleo Stovall from God Is Able Outreach church in Orlando said he’s not comfortable taking the vaccine yet.
“Right now, I would not take the vaccine, no,” Stovall said.
He said he’s encouraging his members to be careful if they take the vaccine, but he’s advising them to monitor it and not to take it for now if they can help it.
“We have to make sure that our body is able to take the vaccine,” Stovall said.
He said he knows that many Black people may think twice when it comes to getting vaccines in part because of historical events like the Tuskegee experiment, where several Black men weren’t given the proper medication to treat syphilis.
This also comes as a Pew research study last month found that only 42% of Blacks surveyed said they plan to be vaccinated, compared with more than 60% for Americans overall.
University of Central Florida assistant professor Dr. Larry Walker has expertise in leadership, race and policy. He agreed that past history is still causing hesitation in the Black community when it comes to getting vaccinated.
“Members of the Black community remember the Tuskegee experiment, what happened to those Black men and overall many people are distrustful of the health care systems,” Walker said. “Feeling of mistrust and I hear that a lot from a lot of Black people.”
On the other hand, Pastor Roderick Zak from Rejoice in the Lord Ministries said he’s only speaking for his family, but he’s not opposed to the vaccine.
“Me and mine, we are going to have the vaccine when it’s available,” Zak said.