Despite efforts for equitable vaccine distribution, Black distrust remains

EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Hamilton, who recently performed for the White House, tells theGrio despite being hospitalized with COVID-19 he is 'educating' himself before getting the vaccine

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White House officials in a Sunday evening call with reporters emphasized that there are now three highly-effective COVID-19 vaccines available across the country. The latest is the one-shot dosage from Johnson & Johnson with an initial distribution of 3.9 million — which is, for now, their entire inventory of the vaccine. 

Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)

Sixteen million more J&J vaccines will be delivered across the month of March, making it 20 million distributed by the end of the month. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is ready for use with delivery starting Tuesday to get them in the arms of Americans.  

Read More: Johnson & Johnson’s 1-dose shot cleared, giving US 3rd COVID-19 vaccine

The Biden Harris administration said states are responsible for dispersing vaccines in a fair and equitable way. The White House will be monitoring distribution to ensure its promise of equity.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks with pharmacist Samir Balile during a visit to the pharmacy of a Giant Foods grocery store to promote the Biden Administrations Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 vaccination on February 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Pfizer, Moderna, and now Johnson & Johnson, are all issued on the emergency use authorization status. All three vaccines are said to be available in all areas, both rural and urban, and any areas in between. The difference is that Pfizer and Moderna are two-shot dosages versus Johnson & Johnson’s single shot. 

No matter the vaccinations, the White House is flooding zones with these three emergency use products and urging Americans to get vaccinated with the first vaccine that available to them.  

The broader issue still haunts the vaccination process as Black and Brown Americans are not signing up for vaccines at the same rate as their white counterparts. White House sources contend there will be a media public relations blitz to deal with the issue of trust and the vaccine in the Black community. Black and Brown people taking the vaccine are said to be three to four times less than whites.

Christianna Tucker gets a COVID-19 vaccine from Anthony Oyetola at Roseland Community Hospital Friday in Chicago, Illinois. The hospital began distributing the vaccine to its staff Thursday. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Federal health officials told theGrio it’s important to respect the concerns of Black America given the historical egregious and unethical medical practices in the past involving Black people, including the controversial Tuskegee Institute syphilis study involving Black men. 

The federal health officials said they have made more than a concerted effort to get Black and Brown people adequately and equitably represented in the clinical trials with some success after the effort. Officials are trying to get the same success in the vaccine distribution, but the numbers so far are not where they ultimately want them to be. Some of the efforts are targeting the 400 community vaccine centers in demographic areas of minorities. 

The concerns about the medical industry’s past relationship with Black America are real and deeply felt across communities. One person who shares that concern is singer/songwriter Anthony Hamilton. The Grammy-nominated artist told theGrio that he is not moving to get in line for the vaccine right now as he said he is being “educated” on the vaccines that are out there.

Read More: Biden, Harris to address Black America in virtual Black History Month Celebration

Anthony Hamilton
Anthony Hamilton (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Hamilton’s pause remains even after he was hospitalized for weeks during a battle with COVID-19 in December 2020. He said he suffered from pneumonia during his medical scare. The singer just recently gave his first performance since recovering from COVID-19 during the virtual White House Black History Month event Friday. He kept his illness private until now.

Hamilton said before he got sick he did everything right; wore a mask, washed his hands and the like. Despite his efforts, he still contracted the virus. He thinks he may have been infected while traveling for a show. Considering his past battle with COVID, Hamilton became concerned with exposure to the virus and turned down the White House’s offer for him to fly to D.C. for the event.

Hamilton’s business manager and his three youngest sons were also sick. Subsequently, his brother got sick while watching Hamilton’s sons as he recovered in the hospital. The North Carolina native said he was concerned about what he had heard about scarring of organs, including the lungs. Hamilton said he used his full voice in the taped White House event.  

The history of Black folks being used as medical guinea pigs is the reason why Hamilton and many other Black Americans have decided to wait it out when it comes to the vaccine. The White House said it plans to continue to address this issue as the pandemic rages on. 

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