I knew when the first case of COVID-19 occurred in the U.S., it wouldn’t be long before conspiracy theories about the disease and the vaccine began.
Like clockwork, I saw Facebook posts from people proclaiming they wouldn’t get the non-existent vaccine, so-called doctors describing what the still non-existent vaccine would do, and people, who through their “research,” found all manner of nefarious intentions and activities for the vaccine.
I understood and understand where these beliefs come from. Our community has a long history of distrust of those in the medical profession. It’s not as if we just don’t trust because we don’t care about our health. We care about our health. Many of us often don’t believe medical professionals care about our health. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard stories of someone who seemed perfectly healthy going into the hospital and never coming out. Or someone being just fine until he or she was diagnosed with a disease, and then the “next thing you know …”
Now that the vaccines are here, I’m not surprised about the distrust of the vaccine or hesitancy to take it. Again, I understand. However, since the day the Recorder began reporting on this pandemic, I made it a point to report accurate information because I understand our community’s distrust. Sometimes that information changed from day to day, but we reported what we knew to be true at the time. I wanted and still want this newspaper to be a place where our community can get accurate information while we remain sensitive to our unique needs. Telling our readers to go get the vaccine and shaming those who don’t because they are fearful of it does a disservice.
In an article in this week’s edition, American Red Cross Indiana CEO Chad Priest warned about the desire to educate too quickly without understanding the needs of those you’re trying to educate. He also said people will get vaccinated, but there is an issue of trust that needs to be overcome. Priest gets it. In order to educate, there has to be trust. I need to know you have my best interest at heart. Too many times African Americans have trusted and been misled. So, we proceed with caution.
I can’t tell you whether or not you should take the vaccine as that’s a personal decision. What I can do is provide you with enough information to help you make the decision that is right for you and your loved ones. I want to help eliminate as much of that fear as possible by separating fact from fiction. Myths often spring from the desire to find answers to our questions.
One of our best resources is Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine. Not only is Caine top-notch in her field, she’s an infectious disease expert. This is Caine’s wheelhouse. And, if you’ve spent any time listening to her, you know Dr. Caine knows her stuff! In addition to her impeccable credentials, representation matters. Yes, it makes a difference that Caine is a Black woman talking to Black people. Studies have shown when someone looks like you, there’s a better chance trust can develop. I didn’t say trust is automatic, but the door is cracked instead of shut and locked with a deadbolt.
In keeping with our mission of providing accurate information, the Recorder, in partnership with New America, will have a panel discussion at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 23 on our Facebook page. Other guests include Paul Babcock, CEO of Health and Hospital Corp. of Marion County; Carl Ellison, president and CEO of Indiana Minority Health Coalition; Dr. Curtis Wright, president and CEO of Eskenazi Medical Group; and Dr. Eric A. Yancy, pediatrician at Riley Children’s Health.
We will discuss the latest with COVID-19 as we’ve lived with this pandemic for a year now. Of course, the vaccine will be discussed as well. We want you to tune in. We want you to ask questions. We want you to have good information straight from those in the know. We don’t want you passing along information you’ve heard third or fourth hand or heaven-forbid from Facebook or YouTube from an “expert” or someone who’s “done their research.” The Recorder is doing everything possible to help you become informed, but it is up to you to actually listen.