Amid ongoing debates over the efficacy and propriety of COVID-19 vaccinations being mandated by certain industries—or if the Biden administration gets its way, being mandated for nearly all industries—here is a bit of good news: The long-feared racial gap in vaccinations seems to have disappeared.
A Kaiser Family Foundation study has found that Americans are reporting increasing numbers of COVID-19 vaccinations. This includes 71% of white adults, 70% of black adults, and 73% of Hispanic adult. The President Joe Biden’s proposal to mandate that all employees in the private sector be vaccinated is still being implemented. This shows how effective general persuasion can be over top-down.
Ever since the initial rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, media outlets and medical officials have speculated about the general trend among African Americans toward vaccine hesitance. Many African Americans have a history of mistrust in the medical system, much of which is rooted in past experience. One of the most well-known cases is that of the Tuskegee study on syphilis. In this case, 400 Black men living in Alabama with syphilis received treatment for their “bad blood”. Researchers gave them placebos while simply tracking the disease’s progress over 40 years.
Even though it was not the reason vaccine hesitance occurred, the Tuskegee research took up quite a bit of brainspace when the first shots were released. Interest in this topic on Google exploded after the December Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was granted. Biden focused a lot of its early vaccine outreach efforts on Americans of Color, but data showed that Republicans were even less likely to get the vaccine.
After less than a full year of vaccination rollout and six months after shots became widely available, vaccine hesitancy across racial lines is now completely gone. The New York Times Credit local efforts to overcome individual barriers such as transportation from or to vaccine sites and door-to-door canvassers that can address people’s questions regarding the shot’s safety and effectiveness. There have also been public health campaigns which contrasted the Tuskegee Study’s vaccination development.
There are many reasons people might be hesitant about vaccines. However, they can also have many other reasons that could lead to them being chosen. Times The article mentions the possibility of the Delta variant and private mandates from employers. It also discusses the eventual approval by the Food and Drug Administration of all vaccines. These methods are based on persuasion and not federal mandates. This is a valuable lesson.