LUBBOCK, Texas — “I was so happy to get it,” Lubbock City Councilwoman Shelia-Patterson Harris said about the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday’s COVID-19 news conference.
Patterson-Harris contracted COVID-19 in November 2020, shortly after her reelection.
“I was able to get my father vaccinated, as well,” said Patterson-Harris.
Her father is T.J. Patterson, Lubbock’s first Black city councilman.
City leaders, along with medical professionals, have encouraged members of Lubbock’s Black community to get vaccinated, despite a nationwide “general distrust” of vaccines amongst Black-Americans.
According to a Pew Research Survey, about 42 percent of Black-Americans said they would receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The same study also showed that 83 percent of Asian Americans and 61 percent of White-Americans said they would get vaccinated.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Gaston Rougeaux-Burnes said the Black community’s distrust is rooted in historical events, such as the Tuskegee Experiment, where government researchers refused to treat hundreds of black men who had latent Syphillis
The experiment was discontinued in 1972. By that time, 28 of those men died from Syphilis, and 100 more died from Syphilis-related complications.
“There’s gonna be a lot of hesitancy,” said Rougeaux-Burnes. “There’s gonna be a lot of fear.”
According to Rougeaux-Burnes, recent statistics have shown that Black-Americans are 1.4 times more likely to contract COVID-19 and 2.8 times more likely to die from the virus.
“We’re more likely to get it and less likely to get the vaccine,” said Rougeaux-Burnes. “We have to trust that it will keep us safe and that it could possibly save lives.”