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Medical Practices in the Black Community and How That Shaped My Views on the COVID-19 Vaccine

Many in the black community don’t trust the medical industry and quite frankly they have every right not to. The history of medical practices that date back to American slavery times has created a stigma and strong dislike of medical professionals and the medical industry as a whole.

So when the new covid-19 vaccine became available for public distribution it’s no wonder the Black community lagged in vaccination rates. Many of us didn’t trust it, myself included. From using Black slaves to inhumanely test medical practices, the Tuskegee Experiment, and even the incident involving tennis star, Serena Williams, where doctors ignored her requests for medical attention while she was giving birth; the medical industry has mistreated Black people for a long time. So when you see us not wanting to go to doctors, know there is centuries’ worth of history that fuels that apprehension.

But for me, I had to learn to trust medical professionals, but not blindly. Also, I began seeking out Black doctors and nurses for my primary care. I knew that people who came from similar backgrounds and looked like me weren’t trying to hurt me.

I’ve learned, even from looking at my own family members, that this distrust in the medical industry is killing us. Our grandparents and our parents don’t like going to get regular medical checkups until it’s too late causing our mortality rate to be higher than any other group in this country. Also, systematic racism that has left us out of high-paying jobs and opportunities to build generational wealth has left many of us too poor to even afford proper medical care.

But with modern breakthroughs in medicine like the gains in HIV/ AIDS treatment and Diabetes medicine have allowed us to live longer fuller lives. The new COVID-19 vaccine should be treated with a similar viewpoint. For me, after doing my own research and speaking to my doctor, I decided that getting the vaccine was the right choice for me. Although I thought I’d be ok if I caught COVID-19, I have family members who have pre-existing conditions that I did not want to put at risk. To me, that was reason enough to protect myself.

In a recent interview we got much of the misinformation about the vaccine dispelled by Dr. Cheryl Holder, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, and Community Initiatives; and Associate Professor at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. She shared that people shouldn’t be skeptical that the vaccine was created quickly because that’s how medicine and policy should work in our county. When we have our government using policy and a lot of funding to create helpful medicines then we have a healthcare system that is working properly for us. Dr. Holder argues that we should now advocate that all sicknesses and illnesses be treated the same way and that if we did Black people wouldn’t have to die at higher rates from treatable diseases.

Our mistrust in the medical system shouldn’t be done blindly and to ignore the medical breakthroughs done at the hand of talented and qualified Black medical doctors and researchers would be a slap in the face of our ancestors. Many Black doctors go into the industry of disparities. Even the COVID-19 vaccine was developed by a Black woman doctor, Dr.Kizzmekia Corbett. She was the key scientist in bringing the vaccine to the public and she’s a person who looks like us and understands our plight in the medical industry. For those reasons, I knew it was ok to trust the science of this vaccine.

Black People Like You Are Dying And Bad Health Is Our Killer

At what point do we put our distrust aside and start demanding that the country that we built for free provide us with the same level of medical care our white counterparts are receiving? I think that day has come and the coronavirus pandemic showed us the ugly truth about our healthcare system. Especially since we, Black people, were dying at higher rates than anyone else. Our communities desperately need a medical breakthrough so we could stop dying by the thousands from COVID-19.

The Vaccine Can Be a Solution to Living

Look I get it, we all have a choice in whether or not we get the vaccine, and that choice is totally up to you but let’s consider this. The data shows that although it’s not a cure for the Coronavirus, the vaccine will prevent you from getting very sick and having to be hospitalized if you contract COVID-19. Also, the Delta variant of the virus is more aggressive and makes people very sick or worse taking their lives. The vaccine helps your body fight that variant. Do all you can to fight this scary aggressive variant of the virus.

Believing unsupported facts from random people on the internet with no credibility can be dangerous and deadly. If someone is not willing to show you what a proven medical doctor is saying they don’t trust them. Taking that gamble with your life is not worth it. And at the very least please wear a mask and maintain social distance if you have or have not been vaccinated. Do all you can to decrease your chances of contracting COVID-19. I want you to live. We didn’t make it through this pandemic for no reason.

At the end of the day the choice is totally yours, but make sure you’re choosing wisely.

Check out our interview with South Florida leaders Dr. Rosalind Osgood and Dr. Cheryl Holder, two trusted Black women on why they chose to get the vaccine and why they became advocates for it.

To find out where you can get vaccines or to get more information on the COVID-19 Vaccine head to IDIDITSFL.com.

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