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COVID Vaccine Barriers Impacting Black Americans

COVID vaccine hesitancy drops among Black Americans, but distance to health care facilities, drug stores still a problem.
Posted at 5:14 PM, Apr 11, 2021

More than three million COVID 19 vaccine shots in arms each day is the new U.S. average, according to the CDC. As more Americans get the vaccine, the racial divide continues. A February Kaiser Family Foundation study shows about half of black adults say they are not confident in the COVID-19 vaccine. 

But access to the vaccine is proving to be another problem in many cities. For the past year, Dr. Rita McGuire has been working inside and out of Roseland Community Hospital. She's been volunteering and teaching predominately Black communities in Chicago about COVID-19 and the vaccines. 

McGuire, an obstetrician, says, "It protects you from dying." 

Last spring in Chicago, Black people made up about 70% of COVID-19 deaths, but only 30% of the population.

McGuire says "that was really hard being on the front lines and being there and seeing patients that came in too late."

There has been a disproportionate number of minorities dying from COVID-19 in other cities, too, like Atlanta. But a history of racism in medical research has led to distrust of the vaccine among many in the Black community. 

Yanous Willis, an Atlanta barber, said, "I really don't trust it because it actually came kind of fast." 

To combat that, groups continue rolling out ad campaigns. 

"I'm getting a vaccine to protect my family." 

Like this one in New Orleans. Recent stats prove more Black Americans are getting vaccinated. 

McGuire: "OK you're just going to feel a little poke." 

But studies show, many have to travel farther than White Americans to get the shot. President Joe Biden has pledged to fix the racial disparity in access to vaccines 

President Biden: "We're investing nearly $10 billion to expand testing, treatment, and vaccinations from the hardest hit yet most underserved communities." 

McGuire and others at Chicago’s Roseland Community Hospital travel to patients in mobile vaccination units, working to eliminate yet another barrier and when it happens.

 "The conversations of joy, of hope, of happiness, of a lot of patients crying — and I'm crying with them because I'm so excited for them as well," McGuire said.