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Despite figures reported by CNN earlier this year, revealing that Black and Latino Americans were receiving far fewer COVID-19 vaccinations than white Americans, Mississippi is turning the corner and leading the nation in vaccination rates among African Americans, per a report by The Daily Mississippian.
“Mississippi appears to be first in the nation to reach vaccine parity for African Americans receiving Covid vaccinations,” State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs recently tweeted.
Making progress toward closing this racial disparity — likely the result of Black and Latino Americans’ inherent distrust of vaccines and presumably their lack of access to them — 30 percent of Mississippi’s 38 percent Black population has received vaccinations, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), as reported by The Mississippian.
In February, according to the article, Dobbs posted a chart to Twitter showing that 70 percent of African Americans receiving vaccinations were doing so at community health centers and hemodialysis centers, and of the state’s residents receiving vaccinations at drive-thru sites, 18 percent were Black.
A survey conducted by the MSDH rendered less optimistic results, however, concluding that 21 percent of Black Mississippians were inclined to decline the vaccine if given access, and another 21 percent were ambivalent, reported The Mississippian.
Addressing vaccine distrust amongst African Americans and its historical roots, the article cited the most famous and perhaps most egregious example of racist medical abuse when noting the Tuskegee Airmen who were, under the guise of being treated for syphilis, being used in an experiment to study its effects on Black men.
The experiment, meant to last only six months, spanned 40 years, and killed many of its unwitting victims, largely for its failure to provide the men with penicillin, a known, effective treatment at the time. The article noted this single instance of medical malfeasance as a primary deterrent against vaccines within the Black community.
The Mississippian also referenced the significance of underlying health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure within the Black community, which were discovered at the top of the pandemic to contribute to COVID-19 deaths and the likelihood of infection, which might, speculatively, motivate Black Mississippians to seek vaccinations, as the state accounts for many of the country’s cases of these diseases.
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