Black Iowans: Will You Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Politicians and front-line health care workers this week have rolled up their sleeves for the vaccine. When it's time, will Blacks take their turn?

Vaccines for COVID-19 are here. But, will Black people — among those hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic — get in line for the shot?

If you’re Black, chances are you know someone who has had COVID-19 or has been hospitalized or died from it. Even so, several national polls and social media chatter show many Black people remain skeptical of the vaccine.

For nine months you’ve watched the rising COVID-19 case counts. You’ve seen the death toll. You’ve heard about the “long haulers” whose COVID-19 symptoms can linger indefinitely.

You’ve read every sad story there is to read. Couples have died within days of each other, making their children into orphans. Young people have died. Babies have died. People with no underlying conditions have died. Some people allegedly have died not even believing COVID-19 is real.

You know that COVID-19 doesn’t care about your hopes and dreams or whether you live in Des Moines, Waterloo or Iowa City.

You’ve watched in amazement when families took vacations and gathered for Thanksgiving despite warning after warning. Maybe you’re the one who defied the health experts’ orders and traveled home.

You’ve worn masks faithfully and used so much hand sanitizer that no amount of lotion will help your sandpaper-like hands.

You made food delivery services rich and picked up food from your favorite restaurant. You’ve ordered your groceries online.

You’ve stayed home. You’ve worried. For nine months. And, you’ve prayed. A lot.

Now, on the cusp of game-changing COVID-19 vaccines, are you rolling up your sleeve, or Nah? Will your decisions be based on science or what your sister-in-law's baby cousin Tracy said about the vaccines?

‘I Would Not Recommend this Vaccine if I Did Not Believe That it Was Safe’

  1. A Black woman, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, served as a lead scientist in the development of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, according to CNN. Corbett works in coronavirus research at the National Institutes of Health. Top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told the Urban League about Corbett recently during a Facebook Live meeting touting the vaccines.

  2. Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, president of Morehouse School of Medicine, told The Undefeated her “biggest fear is that our community will not participate in this process to change our outcomes. I would not recommend this vaccine if I did not believe that it was safe.”

    “My hope is that our community will believe that they have trusted messengers, trusted advocates, trusted entities at the table looking out for them. That they will express their concerns, but listen to the science and make the right decision to participate in us mitigating this virus,” she said.

  3. The Black Coalition Against COVID-19, comprised of Black health professionals, wrote a “love letter” to Black America, urging “our community” to take safe vaccines when available.

    “We know that our collective role in helping to create a vaccine that works for Black people — and that we trust — has an impact on our very survival.”

    Read the letter in full here.

  4. Blacks’ mistrust of the medical field — Tuskegee, Henrietta Lacks and others — have factored into why some have said nope to taking the vaccine. Even so, others have laid out the reasons why they will be “in line Day 1” when it becomes widely available.

  5. And, a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows some Blacks are possibly beginning to warm up to the idea of COVID-19 vaccines with 62% of respondents this month saying they would take a free and safe vaccine, up from 50% three months ago.

Iowa COVID-19 Update

According to the New York Times COVID-19 database, Iowa reported 256,902 positive cases, a 30% drop over the past 14 days. The most recent data shows 3,269 Iowans have died of the virus. Hospitalizations have fallen by 33%. With Christmas next week, please continue to be vigilant.

According to the COVID-19 Racial Data Tracker, 49,845 Black people have died of COVID-19.

Waterloo Commission Petitions for ‘Griffin’ Removal

The Waterloo Commission on Human Rights sent a letter to city officials about “growing anti-human rights sentiment and publicly-displayed condescension from public officials and private citizens alike” stemming from a petition to remove police department insignia which some say resembles the KKK dragon. Read more here.

Free Carbon Monoxide Detectors/Smoke Alarm

After reading about a teenager who died of carbon monoxide poisoning after Thanksgiving, I started a fundraiser to pay for a combination carbon monoxide detector/smoke alarm for families that may not be able to afford one. Donations provided enough money to pay for the devices for eight families. If you know of a family who does not have one of these potentially life-saving devices and needs one, please email me at so I can arrange a contact-less delivery ASAP.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year in the U.S. approximately 20,000 people go to the ER for carbon monoxide poisoning, and 500 die from it.

Coming Soon: Black Business in Iowa

Learn about two new businesses that started during the coronavirus pandemic and the state of Black businesses in Iowa in upcoming newsletters.

Free Virtual Counseling Available for Iowans

Life during the coronavirus pandemic can be a bit much. Don’t go it alone. Help is available through COVID Recovery Iowa, which offers free virtual counseling and assistance for all Iowans affected by COVID-19.

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