It has been just about two months since I completed the COVID-19 vaccination cycle, and I feel fine. By fine I mean, I feel comfortable moving around in ways that I had not felt comfortable for an entire year. I still adhere to mask requirements in business settings and amid the general public in indoor settings despite the federal lift of the mask mandate for fully vaccinated people. But, I’m absolutely back outside. I got on a plane and went to my hometown a couple of weeks ago, my wife and I have been buying tickets for upcoming concerts, I am mostly walking in outdoor settings either unmasked or with my mask pulled down (while remaining distant)…basically I am test driving the “safety features” of my Pfizer shots to the max.
I understand a few things about the current state of the pandemic, and the first thing is I recognize that we are not living in a “post-pandemic world.” There are a lot of things that have gone back to normal, but we have not rid our world of the coronavirus. There are still hospitalizations, still deaths and even with a decline in daily cases/curve-flattening in various locations, the reality is this virus has very likely settled into our ecosystem for the long haul in the same manner as influenza, and will require similar scientific maintenance to prevent it from raging as wild as it did throughout 2020.
42.3% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, and roughly 302 million doses of the approved vaccines have been administered. The country is immersed in a summer season that looks radically different from last summer on multiple fronts, and Americans are making plans to travel and vacation and send their kids to summer camps and do all of the things an environment ridding itself of infectious disease would do.
However, according to very recent reports from the CDC less than a quarter of Black Americans have received a first dose of the vaccine, contributing to a pause in the country’s overall race to herd immunity. Reporting through June 6, 2021, indicated that only 19.5% of Black Americans are fully vaccinated and only 23.3% have received any dosage whatsoever. Comparatively, every other ethnic group surveyed was trending over the 25% mark of a single dose received (some as high as 40%), and all with the exception of the Latino population had numbers of upwards of 25% that were fully vaccinated.
The low percentages of Black Americans who have been vaccinated is a sensitive subject for several reasons. Inequity in vaccine distribution and resource hoarding by privileged communities has greatly contributed to the smaller numbers of vaccinated Black people. But logistics aside, there has been a persistent cultural divide at play from the minute it was announced that a vaccine was available. It has been an ideological conflict fueled by misinformation, partisan politics, false science, historically influenced paranoia and flat-out propaganda from the mouths of folks who do not care about the well-being of Black people.
As I generally do, I turned to Twitter to find conversations folks were having on the subject. A search of the words “black people covid vaccine” generated a mixed bag of opinions on the matter from folks who were either very obviously pushing an agenda, were ill-informed, were confused, were frustrated or just highly skeptical. I believe that these perspectives provide insight as to why Black America is trending behind the rest of the nation in its wide-scale vaccination efforts. The following are some posts that stopped me in my tracks and what I gleaned from the source who tweeted it: