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Black doctors create task force to vet COVID-19 vaccine: 'There is a global mistrust in healthcare'

Coronavirus vaccine trials still struggling for diversity
Posted at 4:31 PM, Sep 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-28 17:29:29-04

NORFOLK, Va. - As some people wait patiently for a coronavirus vaccine, others say they will take a pass.

“I am not taking it,” said Antonio Evans.

He isn’t the only person who feels this way.

“I’m not comfortable with vaccines,” said Joy Reefer.

Dr. Nicole Donaldson with Fort Norfolk Plaza Medical Associates says this is a common concern in the African American community.

“I have a lot of patients who decline the flu shot every year. [Patients say], 'I'm not getting it because I’m going to get sick,'" said Dr. Donaldson.

Aniya George, a young adult who lives in Norfolk, says, “We have a history of doctors exploiting Black people.”

Dr. Donaldson says that history created a lot of mistrust.

"For us, the Tuskegee experiment... there were African-Americans injected with syphilis to see what it did to affect the human body."

That was in the 1930s, and almost a century later after the Tuskegee study, people are still hesitant.

“That is another example of why I wouldn’t want to go through testing on our people,” Reefer adds.

For a vaccine to be approved, it must go through clinical trials.

Doctors with the National Medical Association (NMA), an organization made of Black physicians, have created a task force to vet the safety and efficiency of COVID-19 vaccines and also to address the concerns and questions from the community.

In a statement, the president of the association, Dr. Leon McDougle says the urgency to develop of a vaccine has “threatened the public trust in the FDA that will adversely affect participation in clinical trials, especially in the African American community.”

That is a reasonable approach,” said Dr Donaldson.

She says she understands the urgency, but it needs to be done safely.

George says she’s open to taking the vaccine.

“If it can help other people and save lives, then definitely.”

Others say it’s just too soon.

“Why would I take something they are trying to administer to me that I don’t know nothing about?" Evans adds.

Click here to view the statement put out by the NMA.

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