The United States has recently started to distribute approved COVID-19 vaccines to frontline workers across the country. Soon, the vaccine will be widely available to the public and scientists believe that as more individuals choose to become vaccinated, the sooner we can reach the goal of herd immunity. However, the speed in which the COVID-19 vaccine was developed, paired with uncertainty of the long-term effectiveness, has created skepticism within the African American community.
Medical experts believe that the COVID-19 vaccine is not only safe, but also effective. “[The vaccine] has absolutely exquisite levels — 94 to 95% efficacy against clinical disease and almost 100% efficacy against serious disease that are shown to be clearly safe,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, American physician and Immunologist with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. However, Black minority communities are not convinced.
“History has not been kind to us in the black community in terms of health care, but with the rampant spread of COVID-19, we need to trust the science,” said Rev. Dr. Keith Troy, pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio. “Not only should we trust the science, but the scientists, many of which look like us. “The impact on our community is too devastating for us to refuse this vaccine or just wait and see.”
Public health experts like Dr. Fauci understand the hesitation around trusting the medical field and knows that rebuilding trust will take time. An important step in that direction is the news that one of the leaders in the COVID-19 vaccine development is a Black woman – Dr. Kizzmekia “Kizzy” Shanta Corbett. “So, the first thing you might want to say to my African American brothers and sisters is that the vaccine that you’re going to be taking was developed by an African American woman,” Fauci said. “And that is just a fact.”
A viral immunologist at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health based in Bethesda, Maryland, Corbett is the scientific lead of the VRC’s Coronavirus Team, with research efforts aimed at propelling novel coronavirus vaccines, including a COVID-19 vaccine.
The concerns that African Americans have in trusting the vaccine are valid ones. History has shown that people of color have experienced racist, and at times dangerous, health policies and clinical experiments have disparaged particularly vulnerable Black and brown communities. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, in looking at the data, African Americans are 1.4 times more likely to contract COVID-19 and three times more likely to die due to complications of Coronavirus. The urgency for vaccination, and to achieve herd immunity, is real.
Herd immunity occurs when the majority of the population is immune to a virus. According to a recent survey by Pews Research Center; 42% of African Americans will get the vaccine, compared to 63% of Hispanics, 61% of white adults and 83% of Asian Americans who will choose to be vaccinated. If these numbers are accurate then a total of 60% of the nation’s population will choose the shot – however – experts stress that at least 70% of Americans must be vaccinated to reach herd immunity, which puts pressure on African American communities to change their minds.
“I’m planning to get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to me,” says Rev. Dr. Troy. “For essential workers and people with pre-existing conditions, it is imperative, because you are on the front line, we can’t afford to lose you – or any others.”
The COVID-19 vaccine has been developed to save lives. The distribution of this life-saving vaccine is part of the national effort to protect all people, and global vaccine acceptance is imperative for everyone to return to normalcy. African Americans do not have to worry about being Guinea pigs of the vaccine or fear the outcomes of receiving it. Medical experts assure the public that months of clinical trials and research were executed by willing volunteers. The medical field has evolved since the Tuskegee trials in the past, and there are disclosures and consent regulations that have been developed to protect patients.
“As we work to forge a path forward, trusting science is the only way to end the unequal death toll in the Black community resulting from COVID-19,” says Troy. “Do your own research, then do your part by rolling up your sleeve and getting your shot!”
We’re back! Come drive through for free food, free COVID-19 testing, voting information, and more, in the New Salem Baptist Church parking lot.
For more information or to sign up for your FREE Father’s Day To-go Meal click the link below: https://forms.gle/eLMUzmWhXXUfzdiR6
Great team effort this Saturday with various corporate/community partnerships and an impressive showing from the Urban Scouts Group. Over 1500 packages of Mac & Cheese received! Kudos to Columbus Urban League, COTA, Bob Evans, North Linden Area Commission, Mike Conley Foundation, Community of Caring Development Foundation, and membership of New Salem Church. (Photos by Paige C. Reynolds)
Beginning today, Columbus Public Health will step up inspections on businesses to assure they are complying with the Ohio Department of Health’s orders for social distancing and basic hygiene to slow the spread of COVID- 19.
“We are at a critical moment in slowing the spread of this highly infectious disease in our community,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “We have received hundreds of complaints that some businesses are not complying with the Ohio Department of Health’s orders, and we must assure that employees and residents are safe.”
Teams of sanitarians will visit businesses to assess the number of people working if they are able to work at a safe distance from one another and if soap, water or hand sanitizer are readily available. Those not in compliance will receive a warning letter. A second violation will result in citations and could lead to criminal charges.
“We are pleased that most people and businesses are doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by following the Ohio Department of Health’s orders,” said Dr. Mysheika Roberts, Health Commissioner for Columbus Public Health. “However, we continue to receive complaints from residents that some businesses are not following these orders. We will be sending our teams out to investigate these complaints in order to protect the health and safety of our community.”
Columbus Public Health will not be weighing in on whether a company or workers are essential, only if the place of employment is in compliance with the order. Guidelines for Essential Businesses can be found at corona.ohio.gov.
“Businesses want to do the right thing, but may not know the full extent of the state’s social distancing and safe hygiene requirements. That’s why educating business owners and the public about how we slow the spread of COVID-19 is so important,” said City Attorney Zach Klein. “Our ‘education first, citation second’ approach allows people to learn about the state’s order while still giving health officials and law enforcement the ability to issue a citation if someone refuses to cooperate.”
From the City of Columbus — Office of the Mayor
Today, Governor DeWine issued a “Stay at Home” order which requires all Ohioans to stay at home, and limit trips to essential errands only. The order will go into effect Monday at 11:59 p.m.
It is important that we take this order seriously to stop community spread of COVID-19. We are at a critical point in our fight to stop the spread of this virus, and we must follow the governor’s order.
But this order should not cause panic, and I urge the residents of Columbus to act responsibly. You will still have access to the necessities you need to keep the community healthy and safe, including grocery stores, pharmacies and health care.
For government, businesses and nonprofit organizations that will remain open to serve critical needs and provide essential services, this is not business as usual. Employees who can work from home should, and steps should already be in place to allow employees to practice safe social distancing and assure proper sanitation. We should redouble our efforts to ensure steps we’ve taken to protect our employees are being followed in practice.
For individuals, to the extent you must leave home, follow the advice of public health experts. Limit your movement, practice safe social distancing, and wash your hands.
Finally, while these are challenging times, it is not a time for fear. Instead, we must rely on facts. Our decisions should put the common health and well-being of our community and our families first.
Be patient with one another. Support each other and be kind.
These are times unlike any most of us have ever seen, but together we will get through this and we will emerge stronger, smarter and healthier.
From the City of Columbus — Office of the Mayor
New Salem Church’s Bread of Life Food Pantry Still Serving! During the coronavirus pandemic, people will need assistance more than ever. Thank you to the leadership team and volunteers for making the adjustments so that we can continue to feed families in the Linden area! #newsalemcares
2956 Cleveland Avenue
Columbus, OH 43224